Thursday, January 3, 2013

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, My True Love Said to Me....

Writing for the Twelve Days of Christmas has been a one-day-at-a-time educational process. I haven't (mostly) peeked ahead, but have let each day's focus be enough for that day.

This morning I awoke several hours before I needed to and couldn't get back to sleep for at least an hour, so I began to make use of the time, as I often do, by whispering Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Be's until my mind wandered, pulling myself back into prayer as soon as I realized my thoughts had drifted. One time when I caught myself, it occurred to me that I could just call out (quietly, of course) Jesus' name over and over, so that's what I did, and soon I was sleeping again.

When I found out later in the morning that today the Church would celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, I felt like I'd been hugged by invisible arms.

I was seventeen and in my first long-term relationship with a "boy" (a young college man, actually). A few months after we'd started spending time together, he asked me one day, "Why don't you ever call me by my name?" People, he said, like to hear others say their name. Don't just say, for example, "Good morning." Say "Good morning, Paul."

I don't know why I didn't do that naturally and needed to be so instructed, but I have never forgotten his words, or the lesson. As I began practicing what I'd been taught, I discovered I liked it—both ways: I liked saying other people's names, and I liked hearing others say my name. I still do (though I have to admit—and again I don't know why—I still have to practice this courtesy consciously, almost forty years later).

Jesus' name was revealed to both Mary and Jesus by an angel announcing His conception. "Everyone," says St. Peter in Acts 2:21, "shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord"; and "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins," he says in Acts 2:38. The Apostles performed acts of healing "in the name of Jesus Christ" (such as in Acts 3:6); they suffered "for the sake of" Jesus' name (see Acts 5:41 and 9:16, for instance); and they "preached boldly in the name of the Lord" (as Acts 9:29 tells us). And in Acts 10:43, Peter teaches that "everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name."

Whether I speak your name, you speak my name, or either of us speaks the name of Jesus, why is there such power in it?

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