Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday before Epiphany: The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Readings of the day: RB Prol. 14-20
Mass: 1 John 2:29-3:6; Resp. Psalm 98; John 1:29-34

(Mass, Communion Antiphon for Optional Memorial)

The Amplexus
(Christ embraces St Bernard  from the cross)

Introduced to Bernard of Clairvaux’s (1090-1153) Sermons on the Song of Songs during retreat in preparation for perpetual monastic profession, I have been intrigued ever since. Of the Sermons as a whole, the author of the Introduction appropriately states: ‘The genius of St Bernard expresses itself to the full in his eighty-six Sermons on the Song of Songs. Nowhere else does his spiritual doctrine and experience display itself with such depth, vitality and spontaneity as in these conferences which are the fruit of his most mature years’ (M. C. Halflants). One Sermon is particularly fitting for today’s Memorial, that is, Sermon 15, ‘The Name of Jesus’. I’ve used the Sermon in classes with seminarians and share here a few marked passages we discussed, merely a taste of the riches contained therein:

Write what you will, I shall not relish it unless it tells of Jesus. Talk or argue about what you will, I shall not relish it if you exclude the name of Jesus. Jesus to me is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, a song in the heart.
It is a medicine. Does one feel sad? Let the name of Jesus come into his heart, from there let it spring to his mouth, so that shining like the dawn it may dispel all darkness and make a cloudless sky…The hardness of heart that is our common experience, the apathy bred of indolence, bitterness of mind, repugnance for the things of the spirit—have they ever failed to yield in presence of that saving name? The tears dammed up by the barrier of our pride—how have they not burst forth again with sweeter abundance at the thought of Jesus’ name?
For when I name Jesus I set before me a man who is meek and humble of heart, kind, prudent, chaste, merciful, flawlessly upright and holy in the eyes of all; and this same man is the all-powerful God whose way of life heals me, whose support is my strength.
(Sermon 15, 6)

O the healing, comfort, and strength in the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk.
(Acts 3:6)

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