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Christmas: January 3rd

Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Daily Readings for: January 03, 2013
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: O God, who founded the salvation of the human race on the Incarnation of your Word, give your peoples the mercy they implore, so that all may know there is no other name to be invoked but the Name of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite this feast is celebrated on January 2. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was removed, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial in the Ordinary Form on January 3.

The Church reveals to us the wonders of the Incarnate Word by singing the glories of His name. The name of Jesus means Savior; it had been shown in a dream to Joseph together with its meaning and to Our Lady at the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel.

Devotion to the Holy Name is deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. It was promoted in a special manner by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistrano and by the Franciscan Order. It was extended to the whole Church in 1727 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII. The month of January has traditionally been dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2.

The Tenth Day of Christmas

Holy Name of Jesus
This feast marks no progress in the development of the Church year. It merely embellishes the occasion just observed when the Child received the Name Jesus as had been foretold by the angel. The feast is meant to impress on us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name. It is a relatively new feast, stemming out of devotional piety. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find in it some liturgical or ancient Christian dogma. What did a name signify originally? The name should express the nature of a thing. Thus Adam in paradise gave the animals names in accordance with their being. Among the Jews God's name expressed His essence, Yahweh, i.e., I (alone) am who am (and cause all else to be). The Jews had the highest respect for the name of God, a reverence that finds continuation in the Our Father: "Hallowed be Thy Name."

Persons who played prominent roles in the history of salvation often received their names from God Himself. Adam — man of the earth; Eve — mother of all the living; Abraham — father of many nations; Peter — the rock. The Savior's precursor was given the name God assigned him. According to divine precedent, then, the name of the Redeemer should not be accidental, of human choosing, but given by God Himself. For His name should express His mission. We read in Sacred Scripture how the angel Gabriel revealed that name to Mary: "You shall call His name Jesus." And to St. Joseph the angel not merely revealed the name but explained its meaning: "You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." The Messiah should not only be the savior, but should be called Savior. With Jesus, therefore, the name actually tells the purpose of His existence. This is why we must esteem His name as sacred. Whenever we pronounce it, we ought to bow our heads; for the very name reminds us of the greatest favor we have ever received, salvation.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

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