The Name above Every Name (Phil.2:9)
During the three years of His public life Our Lord Jesus Christ was opposed by those who did not believe in Him, the “not of God,” who on this occasion accused Him of having a devil (Jn.8:46-59). The sin of the Pharisees was Blasphemy, the greatest of sins. Its punishment is proportionately great. St. Jerome says that compared to blasphemy, every sin is small.
Even as Jesus was dying on the Cross He was cruelly taunted by those who hated Him:
“Now the passers-by were jeering at him, shaking their heads, and saying, ‘Thou who destroyest the temple, and in three days buildest it up again, save thyself! If thou art the Son of God, come down from the cross!’ In like manner, the chief priests with the Scribes and the elders, mocking, said, ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save! If he is the King of Israel, let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe him, He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he wants him; for he said, “I am the son of God.” (Mt.27:39-43).
On Mount Sinai God gave Moses the Ten Commandment. The second of these requires us to have reverence for the Name of God: “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished him who takes his name in vain” (Ex.20:7).
The punishment for blasphemy under the Old Law was severe: “Anyone who curses his God shall bear the penalty of his sin; whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him; alien and native alike must be put to death for blaspheming the Lord’s name” (Lev.24:15,16).
Such hatred for God’s Divine Son, Jesus Christ, is everywhere today. For the sin of blasphemy the world will undergo a terrible punishment. But we have a choice. While the world blasphemes Him, we can praise and adore Him. While the world attacks Him, we can defend Him. While the world denies Him, we can affirm Him.
Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus must be the mark of the true Catholic. How could we pretend to believe in Him and love Him if we have the terrible habit of blaspheming His Holy Name? St. Paul admonishes us as to what our attitude should be:
“Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though he was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross. Therefore God also has exalted him and has bestowed upon him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:5-11).
The Catechism of the Council of Trent seems to speak directly to our time about this terrible plague of Blasphemy: “…[T]here are not wanting those who are so blinded by the darkness of error as not to dread to blaspheme His name, whom the Angels glorify. Men are not deterred by the Commandment laid down from shamelessly and daringly outraging His divine Majesty every day, or rather every hour and moment of the day. Who is ignorant that every assertion is accompanied with an oath and teems with curses and imprecations? To such lengths has this impiety been carried, that there is scarcely anyone who buys, or sells, or transacts business of any sort, without having recourse to swearing, and who, even in matters the most unimportant and trivial, does not profane the most holy name of God thousands of times” (p. 382).
If every head should bow and every knee should bend at the Name of Jesus, how can anyone possibly use His Name irreverently? Can we all honestly say that Jesus is the Lord and King whom we adore? If not, why not? Is it lack of faith? Does He have no place of honor in your life? For those who habitually use the Holy Name of Jesus in vain, and are trying to break the habit, it is necessary to practice the Christian virtues and grow in holiness. Then we must restore Him to His rightful place as King and Ruler of all nations. The true Catholic cannot afford even for one moment to dishonor Jesus Christ our King. Neither can the true Catholic afford for one moment to dishonor Mary, the Holy Mother of God, our true Queen and Mother, or any of the saints and holy people of God.
To lack respect for the Holy Name of the Son is to lack respect for all three Persons of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Those who lack reverence for the Three Divine Persons walk a dangerous path. How sad it is to hear blasphemy even on the lips of children, who learn to be blasphemers from adults who are themselves blasphemers. They must be taught to have a profound reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus. We believe that Jesus is truly present on our altar – Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of Lords. He is the very God who created Heaven and earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies, and everything else that exists.
Those who have the habit of blasphemy and are trying to overcome it, should take courage from these words of St. Paul:
“I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he counted me trustworthy in making me his minister. For I formerly was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a bitter adversary; but I obtained the mercy of God because I acted ignorantly, in unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lord has abounded beyond measure in the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus. This saying is true and worthy of entire acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. But for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, as an example to those who shall believe in him for the attainment of life everlasting. To the King of the ages, who is immortal, invisible, the one only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.