December 24, 2017
4th Sunday of Advent
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
“And you shall name him Jesus”
I would imagine that one of the joys (or perhaps dilemmas) of having a child is the great privilege of choosing a name for the child. Many names are chosen from ancestors as a sign of family pride and unity. Many children are also named after a saint who is important in the lives of their parents. Others are given a particular name because their parents heard it somewhere and liked the name. In all of these cases, the child is given a name as something that is significant to the parents and a desire or hope for the child’s own future.
In the case of Jesus, his name was not decided by his parents; rather, it was given to them directly from God the Father by the message of an angel.
We read in Luke 1:30-31, “And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.’”
And again, in Matthew 1:20-21, “Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’”
The name Jesus is very significant. The name itself means “God saves” (as the angel said to Joseph…“he shall save his people”). Our English spelling of “Jesus” comes from the Latin “Iesus”, which comes from the Greek “Iesous”, which comes from the Hebrew “Yeshua”, and this means “Yah[weh] saves”.
Ever since Adam and Eve turned against God, the Lord has been planning to come and save us. Throughout the Old Testament the people of Israel longed for God’s salvation in the coming Messiah. And now in Christ, God has come. He is Emmanuel, which means “God is with us”. God has now come in the flesh to save his people. In Jesus, God’s love for us becomes incarnate.
So let us be proud to call upon the name of Jesus. Not only can we call out to him in prayer, but when we say his name, we also acknowledge that Jesus is our savior and that he is love.
I, and the rest of the Immaculate Conception staff, hope that you and your family have a very blessed and merry Christmas.
God bless you,