Spiritual Reading for New Year’s Day ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading

THE NAME OF JESUS CONSOLES.

This great Name of Jesus was not given by man, but by God Himself; “The Name of Jesus,” says St. Bernard, “was preordained by God.” It was a new Name: A new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name (Is. lxii. 2). A new Name which God could give only to Him Whom He destined to be the Saviour of the world. A new and an eternal Name; because, as our salvation was decreed from all eternity, so from all eternity was this Name given to the Redeemer. Nevertheless this Name was only bestowed on Jesus Christ in this world on the day of His Circumcision: And after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus. The Eternal Father wished at that time to reward the humility of His Son by giving Him so honourable a Name. Yes, while Jesus humbles Himself, submitting in His Circumcision to be branded with the mark of a sinner, it is just that His Father should honour Him by giving Him a Name that exceeds the dignity and sublimity of any other name: God hath given him a name that is above all names (Phil. ii. 9). And He commands that this Name should be adored by the Angels, by men, and by devils: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Ibid. ii. 10). If, then, all creatures are to adore this great Name, still more ought we sinners to adore it, since it was in our behalf that this Name of Jesus, which signifies Saviour, was given to Him; and for this end also He came down from Heaven, namely, to save sinners: “For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven, and was made Man.” We ought to adore Him, and at the same time to thank God Who has given Him this Name for our good; for it is this Name that consoles us, defends us, and makes us burn with love.

The Name of Jesus consoles us; for when we invoke Jesus, we find relief in all our afflictions. When we have recourse to Jesus, He wishes to console us because He loves us; and He can do so, because He is not only Man, but He is also the Omnipotent God; otherwise He could not properly have this great Name of Saviour. The Name of Jesus signifies that the bearer of it is of infinite power, infinite wisdom and infinite love; so that if Jesus Christ had not united in Himself all these perfections, He could not have saved us: “If any one of these,” says St. Bernard, “had been wanting, Thou couldst not call Thyself Saviour.” Thus, when speaking of the Circumcision, the Saint says: “He was circumcised as being the son of Abraham, He was called Jesus as being the Son of God.” He is branded as man with the mark of sin, having taken upon Himself the burden of atoning for sin; and from His very Infancy He began to satisfy for the crimes of men, by suffering and shedding His Blood.

The Name of Jesus is said by the Holy Spirit to be like oil poured out: Thy name is as oil poured out (Cant. i. 2). And so indeed it is, says St. Bernard; for as oil serves for light, for food, and for medicine, so especially the Name of Jesus is light: “it is a light when preached.” And how was it, says the Saint, that the light of Faith shone forth so suddenly in the world that in a short time so many Gentile nations knew the true God, and became His followers, if it was not through hearing the Name of Jesus preached? “Whence, think you, shone forth in the whole world, so bright and so sudden, the light of Faith, except from the preaching of the Name of Jesus?” Through this Name we have been happily made sons of the true light, that is, sons of the Holy Church; since we were so fortunate as to be born in the bosom of the true Church, in Christian and Catholic kingdoms — a grace which has not been granted to the greater part of men, who are born amongst idolaters, Mahometans, or heretics.

Further, the Name of Jesus is a food that nourishes our souls. “The thought of it is nourishment.” This Name gives strength to find peace and consolation even in the midst of the miseries and persecutions of this world. The holy Apostles rejoiced when they were ill-treated and reviled, being comforted by the Name of Jesus: They went from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts. v. 41).

It is light, it is food, and it is also medicine to those who invoke it: “When pronounced, it soothes and anoints.” The holy Abbot says: “At the rising of the light of this Name, the clouds disperse, and calm returns.” If the soul of any one is afflicted and in trouble, let him pronounce the Name of Jesus, and immediately the tempest will cease and peace will return. Does any one fall into sin? Does he run in despair into the snares of death? Let him invoke the Name of Life, and will his life not be renewed? He shall immediately be encouraged to hope for pardon, by calling on Jesus, Who was destined by the Father to be our Saviour, and obtain pardon for sinners. Euthymius says that if when Judas was tempted to despair, he had invoked the Name of Jesus, he would not have given way to temptation: “If he had invoked that Name, he would not have perished.” Therefore, he adds, no sinner can perish through despair, however abandoned he may be, who invokes the Holy Name, which is one of hope and salvation: “Despair is far off where His Name is invoked.”

But sinners leave off invoking this saving Name, because they do not wish to be cured of their infirmities. Jesus Christ is ready to heal all our wounds; but if people cherish their wounds, and will not be healed, how can Jesus Christ heal them? The Venerable Sister Mary of Jesus Crucified, a Sicilian nun, once saw the Saviour, as it seemed, in a hospital, going round with medicines in His hands, to cure the sick people who were there; but these miserable people, instead of thanking Him and begging Him to come to them, drove Him away. So do many sinners, after they have of their own free will poisoned their souls with sins, refuse the gift of health, that is, the grace offered them by Jesus Christ, and thus remain lost through their infirmities.

But, on the other hand, what fear can that sinner have who has recourse to Jesus Christ, since Jesus offers Himself to obtain our pardon from His Father, He having paid by His death the penalty due to us? St. Laurence Justinian says: “He Who had been offended, appointed Himself as Intercessor, and Himself paid what was owing to God.” Therefore, adds the Saint, “if thou art bound down by sickness, if sorrows weary thee, if thou art trembling with fear, invoke the Name of Jesus.” O poor man, whoever thou art, if thou art weighed down by infirmity or by grief and fear, call on Jesus, and He will console thee. It is enough that we pray to the Father in His Name, and all we ask will be granted to us. This is the promise of Jesus Himself, which He repeated many times, and which cannot fail: If you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it to you (Jo. xvi. 23). Whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name that will I do (Jo. xiv. 13).

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