No matter what you are facing there is so much power in simply speaking the name, Jesus. Before we begin Advent next weekend, I wanted to give you a pre-Advent reflection on the importance of names especially Jesus’ name. Pope Francis recently spoke about this saying, ” Christmas is the season of hope and confidence. The birth of Jesus, he added, brings the good news that God loves human beings in an infinite way. He urged pilgrims to repeat aloud the meaning of the name of Jesus. Jesus is God among us.” This got me thinking about the importance of Jesus’ name and our own. In Hebrew Jesus means “God Saves.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this,
432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and hence forth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.“24
435 The name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer. All liturgical prayers conclude with the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Hail Mary reaches its high point in the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The Eastern prayer of the heart, the Jesus prayer, says: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Many Christians, such as St. Joan of Arc, have died with the one word “Jesus” on their lips.
Scripture makes more references to Jesus’ name than I have room for in this blog post, but I will reference a few that I think most expresses the significance and power of His name.
Philippians 2: 9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Acts 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven en among men by which we must be saved.”
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
Being someone involved in many ministries, I can tell you I have witnessed first hand the power in the name of Jesus. It got me thinking about the fact that God places importance on our names too. Some Theologians say that our name is no accident and that God gave us our names before we were born. Do you believe that? And do you know what your name means? My name is Dawn, and it means, the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise. I must admit; I like the sound of that especially when I envision God giving me that name through my parents. If you haven’t already done so, I admonish you to research your name and ponder its meaning and significance to God.
In the scriptures, God changed four people’s names and after he changed their names he changed their lives to reflect their new name. First was Abram to Abraham meaning “man of many Nations” then Sarai to Sara meaning “mother of Nations.” Jacob to Israel after wrestling with the angel meaning “triumphant in battle”
and Simon to Peter meaning ” rock.” Some may say that Paul’s name was changed from Saul, but I do not include him, because Saul changed his own name to its Greek meaning to be more accepted. Priests likewise change their names to symbolize their new direction in life so do religious and third orders. I can recall wanting to choose for my Franciscan name Habakkuk which means “embraced by God,” but our spiritual director intervened and said that was not the name for me. As fond of it as I was, I viewed his response as coming from the Holy Spirit. I ended up being professed “Gabriel Maria” in honor of the “Annunciation” to signify my “yes” to God is always important.
I have heard that some people believe that when we die God will give us a new name. I’m not certain if that is true, but I will end with these two scriptures for reflection.
Isaiah 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Rev 2:17…To him that overcomes…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.