Transcription of Homily
At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised. His name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
The saving words of the Gospel.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, the Holy Ghost. Amen.
His name is to be called Jesus.
We’re confronted with a number of testing periods in our life. And the Church has even marked these out for us. And we see this in Scripture, for example, the how 40 days or 40 years is always a period of testing. There were 40 days of the flood. Moses was in hiding in Hebron for 40 years. He was 40 days on Mount Sinai. The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years. Our Lord was tested for 40 days in the desert. There were 40 days between His resurrection and ascension. And then the Church, in our own liturgical life, has marked these periods of time, strong periods of liturgical time by 40 days. The old Martin’s Fast, November 11, was the first day of Advent, through Christmas, 40 days, Christmas, from Christmas Day to the purification 40 days and then we’ve got 40 days of Advent. We’ve got 40 days from the Resurrection to the Ascension. In what are the what are these tests and that’s our task, I think, to ask ourselves, what is the task? And what is the test at hand? It’s always in preparation for something.
Psychologists tell us, with reason, that it takes three weeks to degrade a vise and another three weeks to learn the virtue in its place; the counter virtue of the vise. In other words, our task then, in each of these liturgical seasons is to be formed to become more Christ-like in a particular way, and they’re not all the same. Advent penance isn’t the same as Lenten penance. Christmas Season testing isn’t the same as the testing during Resurrection. So if we are to learn something, what is our Christmas test?
We should think it’s to follow the example of the shepherds and of the Magi who learned to adore Christ. And that is something that needs to be learned. It’s not something that just comes to us; we need to learn what adoration means. And what are the helps towards adoration, what are the hindrances towards adoration? Certainly, technology is often a hindrance to adoration. Reading angry blogs, an allowing of anger and bitterness to fill our hearts, is an obstacle to adoration. There are many things that want to come in the way; competing voices. And nonetheless, there’s only one word that really matters and that is the Eternal Word who wants, who is communicating with us.
You sometimes hear people say, Well, I think God is trying to, well He doesn’t, no He’s not trying to say something. Our Lord doesn’t have a speech impediment. Okay? He’s constantly communicating. Okay? The problem isn’t on His end, and nothing is lost in translation. Okay, it’s the receiver. Okay. We’re the ones who often have a hindrance and obstacle to what our Lord is communicating to us. And what is He communicating to us?
We see it in the Gospel today. Right? The object of our adoration is Jesus Himself. The Word made flesh. The very name Jesus was revealed to Our Lady in the Annunciation, was revealed to Joseph in a dream. And this Holy Name is a central part of Revelation. The name is the precursor to the person. So, Jesus Himself is the great translator, translating the being of God into a language accessible to creatures and without losing anything of His own fullness, and His fidelity and the will of the Father. His fidelity to Himself makes this possible. He’s constantly in every way faithful to what He is, in His divinity, the Son of God come to Earth. A true God in His Sacred humanity.
You know, the Greek word for translated is hermes. You think in Greek mythology the false god Hermes, right? Who brought Zeus his message to Earth? He was in certain sense a translator. Well, St. Clement of Alexandria tells us that the only true Hermes, the only true translator is Jesus Christ himself. And He doesn’t merely bring a message. So as He fulfills the Old Testament prophecies in His sacred humanity in His incarnation in His divinity made flesh He also in a certain sense, shows us how the pagan myth points towards this reality as it falls short in itself, but it points towards this reality that is beyond anyone’s imagining. The Word made flesh. So Jesus is the true and the unsurpassable Hemes. Not only does he bring us God’s message He is God himself. And He’s infinitely greater than any other prophecy of Him; He surpasses it as He fulfills it. He closes this distance between God and ma. He’s the Word, He’s also God’s presence among us under the veil of flesh.
There’s a great Spanish Dominican author from the Golden Age of Spanish literature, which is my favorite type of literature – 16th century Spanish literature- and his name was Fray Luis de León. And he wrote this wonderful book called De los Nombres de Dios “On the Names of God”. And he takes all of the titles attributed to our Lord in Scripture and does a beautiful, very thoughtful meditation on each one. And when he comes to, really the culmin of the names of God, he comes to Jesus and he says that you know, this this name Jesus is a composite of the tetragrammaton. Right, the holy letters that would never be allowed to be pronounced — YHWH. In fact, the Jews would never say that when they would see YHWH in the Scripture, they would just say Hashem, which means The Name. So they would instead of saying God’s name, they would say The Name Hashem. Well, since the name was so utterly holy and unpronounceable, added to it YA – Yahshua, so God saves. So this verb is added to the Holy Name, making it pronounceable because it’s given to us for our salvation, and so the proper name of God is so holy, so mysterious and pure that it cannot be pronounced by human mouth is now translated into a human language.
The sanctity of God is brought to our level without losing anything of Himself. He transfers, He translates himself to human language by His very name. He makes it possible not only for us to pronounce it, His true name, and that we can know Him and know Him through His name, that He is the God saves and it can be no other than Jesus, the only name by which we are saved.
In the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.