Friday, January 18, 2008
Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Feast of The Circumcision
(Website Editor's note: this sermon was presented to me by Fr. Gerard this past weekend. It was recorded in Tacoma, Washington)
Today’s short Gospel tells us, in simple terms, of the right of circumcision when Jesus received His Holy Name, the name which was told to Mary even before the incarnation took place. On this day, Jesus began to fulfill the meaning of his name, which is savior, by shedding the first drops of his blood in obedience to the law of Moses, he submitted to the rite of circumcision, even though he was exempt from that law because he was not, of course, any way subject so sin. But he bore this suffering to begin to shed his blood, to show his willingness, to live up to the meaning of His name, which signifies savior.
The name of Jesus is a divine name announced to Mary on the part of God by Saint Gabriel. For that reason, it was called by St. Paul a name above all names and it was also called a name by which salvation alone is found. Again, we find this in the epistles of St. Paul. This great name is likened by the Holy Ghost unto oil, “my name is as oil poured out from the book” of Canticles in the Old Testament. For this reason, St. Bernard tells us: “that as oil is light, food and medicine, so the name of Jesus is light to the mind, food to the heart and medicine to the soul.” It is light to the mind by this name the world was converted from the darkness of idolatry to the light of faith. We, who have been born in these regions, where before the coming of Christ, our ancestors were Gentiles should all have been born in the same condition, had not the Messiah come to enlighten us. How thankful are we not then to be to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith as he told us, “he who believes not shall be condemned” and thus we all should probably have been lost because the chance of saving one’s soul without the light of the Gospel is indeed slim. The grace God gives, which is sufficient for the salvation of all must be cooperated with and the moral law, which we find in the ten commandments which is in the conscience of each one, must be followed and those must have supernatural faith and supernatural charity. All these things are difficult to have without having the sacraments and the true faith of the Gospel.
The name of Jesus is also the food that nourishes our hearts. Yes, because this name reminds us of what Jesus has done to save us. Hence, this name consoles us in tribulation, gives us strength to walk along the way of salvation, supplies us with courage in difficulties and inflames us with love for our Redeemer. When we remember what he has suffered for our salvation.
Lastly, this name is medicine to the soul because it renders us strong against the temptation of our enemies. The devils tremble and fly at the invocation of this Holy Name. He who in temptation calls upon Jesus shall not fall and shall be saved. According to Psalm 17, David wrote: “Praising, I will call upon the name of Our Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.” And who was ever lost, who when he was tempted invoked Jesus. He alone is lost who does not invoke His aid or who while the temptation continued ceases to invoke him. If we had always called upon the name of Jesus, we would never have been conquered by the devil. If we have miserably lost his grace at some time, it is because in temptation we have neglected to call upon Jesus begging for his assistance. Let us hope for all things through the Holy Name of Jesus. Remember that we are told to make our prayers through Jesus Christ because as we read in the Mass, at the end of the Canon, through him and with him and in him, all honor is given to God in the unity of the Holy Ghost. Let us ask Mary, through her love for us, to obtain for us the grace constantly to invoke her name and that of her son, so that having repeated these names constantly during life, we may repeat them with our last breath. In the lives of many of the saints, we find that they invoked the Holy Name of Jesus and the Blessed Name of Mary as they were dying and so died a very holy death.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.