“You can call me by my first name.” – Jesus (probably) Good Word for Sept. 27th

hello_my_name_is_jesusFor the complete Sunday Readings click here.

“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I like to call people by name. Whether it is a waitress in a restaurant or ticket booth worker at the State Fair, I think using someone’s name is a sign of respect. My experience has been when I use someone’s first name; I get a little better service or sometimes even make someone else’s day a little better.

Names are powerful. Countless studies and antidotal examples demonstrate that greeting someone by name is enjoyable, engaging, and communicates, “You matter to me.” Business writers like Dale Carnegie have consistently declared the power in using someone’s name.

In our gospel this weekend John tells Jesus that someone is using Jesus’ name to drive out demons. A lot more happens in this gospel, but let’s just stop with this fact. This mysterious exorcist is driving demons out of possessed people simply by uttering Jesus’ name. How powerful is Jesus’ name? It has power over supernatural beings.

Obviously Jesus has power over all creation, including the supernatural, but even his name holds incredible power. Philippians 2:9-10 says, “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

The reason that using God’s name in vain is on the list of the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:7) is because God’s name holds power. To use God’s name is to call upon God. Even just saying the name “Jesus” is a prayer because saying it is calling out for Jesus to be near us.

This got me thinking; how often do I even speak the name of Jesus? I was raised to never use God’s name in vain, and have tried to raise my kids that way. But how often do I actually call upon Jesus? How often do I rely on Jesus in my day to day? Have my children ever seen me really turn towards Jesus in good and in bad times? Our home has crosses and crucifixes on the wall, but do we ever talk about them?

My kids know I pray, but I’m not sure they know how much I rely on Jesus.More than that, how much do I rely on Jesus? Maybe one reason the name of Jesus isn’t uttered often enough in my home is because I don’t turn to him enough. I want my children to have a deep, beautiful, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I want them to know, love, and serve God. I also know that faith is “caught” not “taught.” I can tell my children to do or have something, but if I have don’t have it or do it myself, it probably won’t stick with them.

The good news is that the solution to my probably is found in the problem itself. The best thing to do when I need to rely on Jesus more is to ask Jesus to help me rely on him more. The way to say the name of Jesus is to say his name while asking for the grace to fill our homes with the goodness of his name.

Is your home full of the name of Jesus? Do you rely on the power of Jesus’ name?

Live It:
Challenge for this week: Say Jesus’ name 3 times in front of others. Obviously, use Jesus’ name positively and intentionally. You can drop Jesus name in prayer or in casual conversation.

Just do it. The Good News for Sept 13th

local-kids-playing-at-the-beach-sunset-3 For the complete Sunday readings click here.

It happened at the Elm Creek swimming pond this past weekend. My wife and I were taking our daughters for a last weekend of summer swim. I was sitting on the edge of the water watching my youngest daughter splash around in the shallow water when suddenly all I could think about was the picture I had seen that day of the lifeless body of the young refugee laying in the sand of a European beach.

The young boy had died during the horrendous trip from Syria towards the safety of Europe. Something happened and he was in the water and his body has washed ashore. I tried to shake the image from my mind and soon had moved on to something else. But for a second, I was overcome thinking about that little boy who died and the family who had lost him in the dangerous trek to safety.

Honestly, I didn’t want to think about the horrors of this overwhelming refugee crisis. I don’t ever want to imagine what war or famine means for real families.

Our second reading this weekend reminds us that thinking about someone in need isn’t enough. Thinking about the refugee crisis or even saying, “Wow, what a shame,” will leave us feeling empty or upset. Why? Because Jesus has called us to more. As baptized Catholics, Jesus has invited to do something more significant than worry or fret or feel. And it is in doing more, in acting on our faith, and actually doing something to help someone that the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is lived and shared. In sacrificing for the sake of someone else, we are blessed.

Pope Francis recently encouraged every Catholic parish and monastery in Europe to welcome in, house, and feed at least one family of refugees. If the European Catholic Church did this, estimates suggest they would help nearly 500,000 people. Wow.

Would we be willing to do this? Would we the people of Holy Name of Jesus welcome in a family of strangers? I hope we would.

Here is what we can do, for sure. We can demonstrate our faith. By that I mean that we live what we believe, that Jesus is calling us to not only believe in the gospel, but to live it out. In this particular case and for those of us in the USA we can pray daily for the refugee crisis and an end to war and famine. We can call on our government to increase the number of refugees we will accept into our country and our communities. And we can donate financially to a group we know will be able to help those in most need.

Just thinking and wishing isn’t enough. It isn’t enough for the people we are thinking about, but it also isn’t enough for us. Just thinking or wishing isn’t generous enough to bring us joy. If we want to turn mourning into dancing, we have to do something. St. Paul would call that demonstrated faith.

Live It:
Help Catholic Relief Services help a refugee family. Catholic Relief Services serves millions every day, including those fleeing the Middle East. CRS is a highly accredited aid organization with boots on the ground in the worst places in the world. Donate directly to refugee relief here.