Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).
More Than a Sound
During our high school or college days we might have heard this passage from one of the dramas by William Shakespeare. "What's in a name? that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet." These lines are from the play Romeo and Juliet and are one of the most famous lines from the works of Shakespeare.
Those words are from the mouth of Juliet who comments on the name of her lover Romeo Montague. The audience is led to understand that the guy, the lover, can have any name other than Romeo Montague and he still will be loved by Juliet, just as a rose can have any other name but it still smells as sweet as a rose.
In our Gospel reading today we have a word which is not just a word, a breath of a voice or in the famous Latin phrase flatus vocis. It is more than a sound as other names are for all practical purposes merely sounds. It is a name which cannot be taken out and substituted with another name because this name is the reality of the person. Take out the name and the person referred to by this name is no longer the same, because his name is his reality. It is a name that is not like the word “rose” in Shakespeare's play.
That name is Jesus.
Listen to the last sentence in our Gospel reading today. "Whoever believes in him (that is, Jesus) will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."
The name of the only Son of God is Jesus and this name not only describes Jesus but is the reality of Jesus so that it is as powerful as Jesus himself. That is what the Scriptures tell us.
Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians says, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him (that is, Jesus), and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:9-11 AV)
Our Catechism tells us: "But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves." The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation." (2666)
Before I proceed I recommend to you 2 reading materials which if properly read will inspire you to have a genuine love for the name of Jesus. Both reading materials are very short but very powerful.
The first is from "Jesus": The Shortest, Simplest, and Most Powerful Prayer in the World, in the book Prayer for Beginners which you can access from peterkreeft.com
The second is THE WONDERS OF THE HOLY NAME by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P. which you can access from olrl.org.
These two reading materials can revolutionize your life when you pronounce the name of Jesus. Time does not allow us to read these materials but I strongly encourage you to get these reading materials and let them transform your spiritual life.
I usually do not make such recommendations during my homilies but this is something very different. Those readings can bring back a dead soul to life. After the Mass I will be giving to those interested a piece of paper which contains information where you can get these reading materials, free in the Internet.
For now I only want to relate to you two stories about the name of Jesus from Debbie Przybylski which she related last June 10, 2015 in this website, intercessorsarise.org.
The first story concerns her husband, Norm. Let her relate the story. "A few years ago my husband, Norm, had an opportunity to test this promise (of using the name of Jesus for a miracle) at a movie theater with his nephews. Lord of the Rings was an exciting movie, but right in the middle of it, a teenage boy stopped breathing. Those in the theater could hear the agonizing cry of a father pleading for his son to start breathing. He cried out with all his heart, “David, breathe! David, breathe!” But David just lay there without moving, without breathing.
“The movie stopped abruptly, and people in the theater began to fear and panic. The atmosphere was extremely tense. Not knowing exactly what to do, Norm walked right over to where the boy was lying motionless. He then stooped down, and with an act of faith, he laid his hands on David and quietly said, “In the name of Jesus, breathe.” Suddenly David came to life and began to breathe! God had answered believing prayer."
Then Debbie adds, "There is power in the name of Jesus when we link our faith with heaven."
The second story is about a young boy. It is humorous but it illustrates very simply the power of Jesus' name. Here is Debbie's record of that story.
“The news reporter, Paul Harvey, told the story of a three-year-old boy at the grocery store with his mother. She sternly told him before entering the store, “No chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask!” In the store she put him in the little child’s seat in the cart, and they wheeled down the aisles. He was quiet until he got to the cookie aisle. He saw those delicious chocolate chip cookies, stood up and said, “Mom, can I have the chocolate chip cookies?” With a strong voice she said to him, “I told you not to even ask. No!”
“He sat down. They went down the aisles but later had to come back to the cookie aisle again. He asked for them again. She told him, “Sit down and be quiet. I said no.” Finally arriving at the checkout lane, the little boy knew it was his last chance. He had to do something quick. So he stood up in his seat and shouted as loud as he could, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?”
"Everyone around him began to laugh and applaud that little boy. And because of the generosity of the other shoppers, the little boy and his mother left the grocery store with twenty-three boxes of chocolate chip cookies! He was very happy. God loves to answer persistent prayers that are prayed in the name of Jesus. This may be a funny story but let’s not forget the message. There is an authority attached to using the name of Jesus.”
And now let us go back to our Catechism. It tells us how to pray with the name of Jesus. I quote:
"To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him. This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light. By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy. (2667)
“The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always.
When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.” (2668)
Today is the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and it is very appropriate that we reflect on the wonders of the name of Jesus for this name contains the initials of the Trinity. “Jesus” contains the initials of the Trinity. J is for Jehovah, the Germanized pronunciation of Yahweh, the name of God in Hebrew which is appropriately ascribed to God the Father. S is for Savior which is appropriately ascribed to God the Son. And the second S is for Spirit, of course the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of both the Father and the Son.
Our first reading emphasizes the name of God in the Old Testament. Moses in the early morning went up Mount Sinai taking with him the two stone tablets. Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name, "LORD." The word Lord here is all capitalized. When this happens to be written in our English bible it means that in the original Hebrew God's name YHWH is written there but the Jews would not pronounce that name. Instead they pronounce the word Adonai or Lord.
In the second reading we have the formulation of the greeting used in our Mass which includes the three persons of the Trinity. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you."
There is no need to think how the three persons can be one God. All we need is to pronounce the name of Jesus with reverence and love and the Father and the Holy Spirit will come and do their work in our life. We may not be able to understand the Trinity, but we know the three persons are there because they live within and through us.
Let us now say the doxology with reverence and love as we bow our heads.
Glory be to the Father and to Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
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Note for the readers:
The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.
NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised). This is the translation I use. Unless otherwise stated the text I use is from this translation.
AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.