Full readings: Numbers 6:22 -27; Psalm 66; Galatians 4:4-7; St. Luke 2:16-21.
A monk of the Eastern Church tells us that "the name of Jesus is more than a mystery of salvation, more than a help in time of need, more than a pardon after sin. It is a means by which we can apply the mystery of the Incarnation." Furthermore when we pronounce that Name, "we entrhone in our hearts, we put on Christ; we offer our flesh to the Word so that He might assume it in His mystical Body."
Eight days after His birth, the holy Child was named at His circumcision. He was given that name which Mary had been told by the angel Gabriel at His conception, Jesus. How sweet is that name which is above every other name; the name which like a beautiful melody lingers on our lips so constantly, whether in quiet prayer or public worship, over the computer or counter, at the sink or stove, in jogging or strolling, in rising or retiring, in difficulties or distress. Indeed in all our daily tasks, and in all kinds of situations, the repeating of "Jesu" slowly and surely is balming.
What has made repetition of that name so sacred, so sweet, so seasonal? The New Testament lesson for to-day sums it up that through Jesus who bought our freedom we are "no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, an heir by God's own act." (Gal.4:5-6) Jesus has restored us to our former glory and freed us from the slavery of sin. In the name of Jesus we have salvation. In that glorious name we are free. There is nothing for us ever to fear; He has given us the only life which matters - the eternal with Him.
When we are denied for whatever reason to receive our Lord in His holy Sacrament, His most holy Name as a focus for our meditation can substitute. By saying and savouring the name of Jesus, it "can become for us a kind of Eucharist". In a real sense "our soul is also an upper room room where ... the Lord's Supper can be celebrated at any moment whatever in an invisible way."
The uttering of this most holy name is also a means of transfiguration, especially in our relationship with others. We all have to meet up with the difficult people of life - those we find trying and those who find us trying. Yet if we "pronounce over them this name ... in the Spirit of adoration and duty" then we shall meet them in quite a different light.
Hence there is little wonder that ever since the days of Christ here on earth, millions of Christians have held that name so dear. The mediaeval mystic, Richard Rolle, pleaded for Christians "to love [this] name Jesus, and ponder it in your heart so that you do never forget it wherever you are." When this is done Rolle describes this wonderful reward:
Ah! Ah! that wonderful name! Ah! that delectable Name! This is the Name which is above all names, the Name that is highest of all, without which no man hopes for salvation. This Name is sweet and joyful, giving veritable comfort to the heart of man. Verily the Name of Jesus is in my mind a joyous song and heavenly music in mine ear, and in my mouth a honeyed sweetness. Wherefore no wonder I love that Name which gives comfort to me in all my anguish.
I cannot pray, I cannot meditate, but in sounding the Name of Jesus. I savour no joy that is not mingled with Jesus. Wheresoever I be, wheresoever I sit, whatsoever I do, the thought of the savour of the Name of Jesus never leaves my mind. I have set it in my mind, I have set it as a token upon my heart, as a token upon my arm. ... It inflames the affections, it binds the thought, yes, and draws the whole man to its service. Truly O Jesus is Your Name desirable, lovable and full of comfort. ... Therefore what can he lack who desires to love the Name of Jesus unceasingly?
What indeed can we lack when we have this most holy Name always on our lips? The answer is obviously nothing. Rolle's reply was "indeed he loves and yearns to love, for we know that the love of God is of such a kind that the more we love, the more we long to love." We have all that the heart could ever desire and more while we live here on earth. "Jesu the very thought of Thee,/ With sweetness fills my breast." That constant thought of Jesu during our earthly pilgrimage makes us long to see His face and to rest in His presence. When we are able to do this we shall know that our pilgrimage is over; we have come home, understanding that His face will be sweeter than the sound of His salving name.
O most holy Jesu, let Your name be always on my lips and Your image always before me, so I may remain in Your presence for every moment of my life. Amen.
When the Caroline divine, Mark Frank preached on the Feast of the Circumcision and the HolyName of Jesus, he expressed too the sweetness of this sacred name for Christians and quoted from one of the best medieval exponents of this name, Bernard of Clairvaux.
There is nothing sweeter to be sung of, nothing more delightful to be heard, nothing more pleasant to be thought of, than this Jesus. Jesus, the delight of hearts, the light of minds, above all joy, above all we can desire; the tongue cannot tell, words cannot express, only he that feels it can believe, what sweetness is in Jesus. A long song he makes of it: it would be not amiss that we also made some short ones, some ejaculations and raptures now and then, upon it. Give us but a taste and relish of the sweetness of thy blessed name, O Jesus, and we shall also sing of it all the day long, and praise thy name for ever and ever, and sing with the same Father -
‘O Jesu, thou joy and glory of men and angels, thy name is music in our ears, honey in our mouths, heavenly nectar to our hearts;’ all sweetness, all pleasure to us throughout, wonderful sweet.