Meeting Christ in the Liturgy Library

Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

  Epistle: Acts of the Apostles 4. 8-12; Gospel: St. Luke 2:21

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Behold, this child is set for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against..." Mary and Joseph present the infant Lord at the temple in loving obedience to God and Simeon boldly prophecies: Christ will be hated by all who reject the truth. As with Christ, so with all who bear his name in faith and action. Those in rebellion against God, who worship false gods, will seek in every age to attack him and all who belong to him.

The universal Church of Christ stands for the truth and so finds herself opposed by all who detest truth. Her members are called to heroic fidelity against those who deny God and his laws. The Body of Christ is now and will be a "sign that is spoken against" until the end of the world. As we grow in authentic Christian faith and life, we may be called to share in every sorrow and tribulation our Lord freely underwent for us, that we might share forever in the perfect happiness of God. In the conflict of good and evil, for some this will mean even death.

The Church must remain faithful to her Lord and so follows his example.

Many of Jesus' deeds and words constituted a 'sign of contradiction,' (Lk 2:34) but more so for the religious authorities in Jerusalem, whom the Gospel according to John often calls simply 'the Jews,' (Jn 1:19; 2:18;5:10) than for the ordinary People of God. (Jn 7:48-49)" (CCC 575)

Many of the common Jewish people were open and sincere before God and so found a place in their minds and hearts for Christian faith. Through pride and power some in the Jewish nation had lost a humble desire for God and could not accept the Messiah while blinded with self-righteousness and hypocrisy.

In every age some hard-heartedly refuse to accept Christ as the fulfillment of the Law, the Temple "not made by human hands", the full revelation of the Triune God. Some government and religious leaders claim Godliness, just as Jewish leaders did, but their actions often speak far differently than their words. A president claims to be Christian, quotes the Bible, and yet approves the slaughter of innocents as they enter the world from their mothers' wombs. Doctors, lawyers and elected leaders promote heinous laws which encourage abortion for use of fetal tissue, the equal of Nazi exterminations. Judges continue a vociferous assault upon God in the schools as great numbers of children suffer for lack of faith in God and his love. Parents claim Christianity yet fail to teach their children basic prayers or to bring them to worship. Catholics break their communion with God through fornication, marriage outside the Church or desecration of the Sabbath and compound their wrongdoing by hypocritical reception of Communion.

Many things are wrong with the world; sin is a constant reality for the sons and daughters of Adam, but pessimism is never the way for the members of Christ. As "signs of contradiction" we preach the truth about love and life to a forgetful world. We proclaim the reality of God's love which can break into our hardened hearts by redemption in Christ who is truly with us now and will never leave us.

The solution to sin is heroic acceptance of our vocation to love. Young men and women jeopardize their future marriage, as well as their souls, through fornication; they must be patiently told that their actions prove they do not love each other enough. Heroic love remains chaste outside of marriage, and builds a solid foundation of honesty with God, with self and others for a marriage based on generous self-giving and not selfish taking. Young boys and girls need generous parents who are willing to sacrifice money and career to give the time and attention no child can do without. When a child knows he is loved, he learns to cherish himself enough to avoid the danger of drugs and alcohol abuse. In authentic love priests must preach the whole doctrine of the Church, calling the moral evil of contraception by name and providing the means for couples to learn natural methods for the regulation of births.

Our Faith is a treasure beyond price, by the strength of which we stand boldly against the winds of fad and fashion, the culture of death that threatens happiness now and forever. Signs of contradiction, we share in the glory of the great host of martyrs who, when called by God, sacrificed all in trust and love of Him. We bear the holy name of the Savior, Jesus, and rejoice when found worthy to suffer "for the sake of the name."

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy", Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.)