The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Blessed be the Name of Jesus

Today’s readings

“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”

I don’t think we really understand and respect the power of the name of Jesus in our day to day lives.  Very often people take the name of the Lord in vain, violating the second commandment of the Decalogue, and even if we bristle about it a bit, how often do we challenge it?  How often do we ourselves take the Holy Name in vain?

Here is some context.  In Judaism, the second commandment was taken so very literally that the name of God (the one is abbreviated YHWH) was never pronounced.  That very abbreviation was made without vowels, so that when it came up in a text, the reader would not pronounce it.  They would substitute with the word “Adonai,” which we translate as “Lord.”  Interestingly, for some time in the Church, it was commonplace to hear that Y-word in Catholic Liturgy, for which we should be ashamed.  There were even hymns (which have since been revised) that used the word.  The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a directive in 2008 that this practice was forbidden.  So we can see here that names used to refer to the Divine Persons are sacred and not to be thrown around lightly.  Not even in the Sacred Liturgy. 

We echo this slightly in Catholic worship.  You will often see the Presider of Liturgy bow his head when the names of Jesus, Mary, or the saint of the day, are mentioned.  This is a practice that is given in number 275 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.  It says, “A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.”  The instruction doesn’t say who does that, but clearly the Presider at least should, but even the faithful can do that as well.  In fact, in older times in very Catholic areas, whenever someone heard or used the name of Jesus in conversation, believers would bow their heads.  I once heard a homily in my young days from a priest who recommended that we should consider bowing our heads whenever we heard someone take the name of the Lord in vain, and it’s not a bad idea.

And for good reason.  “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”  Did you catch that?  The name of Our Lord terrifies demons!  So just as Jews don’t pronounce the name of the Lord, we should be very careful how we use it.  When we use the name of the Lord, it has to be with utmost respect and reverence.  Because His Name has power.

Taking a cue from this very Gospel reading, there is a tradition of deliverance for those who are dealing with some kind of oppression.  It’s just short of an actual exorcism.  In that process, the oppressed persons are encouraged to name the things they are struggling with and to renounce them in the name of Jesus, and, in the name of Jesus, to claim blessing and victory over sin.  And believers are absolutely entitled to do that, yet we hardly ever think to do so.  Jesus sent the seventy-two out to claim victory over sin and illness and everything that oppressed people in his Holy Name.  They were to take nothing “extra” with them, because they could depend on the power of his Name to provide for them.

We can do that too, but perhaps we need to be reconciled with his Holy Name.  We need to repent of using his name in vain, and repent of not knowing the power that His Name holds.  Even the demons know better.  We can claim victory over everything that oppresses us, whenever we do it in the name of Jesus.

Say these with me if you know the prayer.  If you don’t know it, google “Divine Praises” and memorize the prayer.  It’s wonderful to have it in your prayer toolbox.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints.