Sunday, January 04, 2015

In the name of the what?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

"I arrest you in the name of the Law."

It's a phrase that seems to have gone out of fashion among the police officers of today. These days, they arrest you and then tel you about the right to remain silent which may harm your defence. Do you notice that it is the "Name of the Law" which gives the policeman the authority to arrest you in the first place? What does that mean, "Name of the Law"? Does the Law have a name?


Perhaps the name of the Law is Bill.

It doesn't seem right that the Law has an actual name, does it? It's not a person like Bill. Cleatly the name of the law indicates the power and hold that the Law has over us. Compare this with, "open in the name of Her Majesty, the Queen!" We understand that better because Her Majesty is a person like we are. She has a name and an authority over us - at least her government has an authority over us.

Of course, St Paul tells us that we must submit to whatever authority is set over us. He knew, as well as we do, that there is a yet greater name!


The Jews hold the name of God so holy that it cannot be spoken. They use the four letters YHWH and say "Adonai" instead. YHWH stand for Yahweh.

Hold fast! If the Jews cannot speak the name of God because it is so holy, should we take care not to say it either? Surely it is a name of power which is far beyond all earthly imagining?

Indeed it is! Yet the birth of God as Man allows us accss to something which is deeply touching. God took the name Jesus to save us. We speak that name, though it is usual for good Christians to bow a little when they use it because it is so precious. Anyone can speak that name, but none may wield its power.

Christians, however, have access to something even deeper than that, Each one of us is called to be an ambassador for Christ and this to speak and act in His name. We are permittedto pray in His name.

Indeed, Our Lord says, "whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do , that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." Sounds wonderful. Yet we knao that just tacking on the phrase "in Jesus' name" to a prayer doesn't mean that we're going to get that Mercedes, or indeed that someone is going to get well again.

The use of the name of Jesus can only be done with the consent of God. Our Lord says also, "many shall come in my name, saying , I am Christ; and shall deceive many."The name of Christ can only be used by people engaged on God's business. This is why the disciples could heal the sick in Jesus' name. To use it in ways for which Our Lord has not authorised us is like a policeman trying to arrest us for being ginger or overweight. It isn't right and it won't work.


The first words of the Mass are "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost". This is God's work and so our Mass has God's approval. You can be sure that you meet with God and call Him by name even as God meets with you and calls you by name,

How does He want you to use His name?

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