The Feast of the Holy Name, Jesus

The Feast of the Holy Name is celebrated eight days after the Nativity, January 1. Under the Law of Moses, all male infants were to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth (Lv. 12:3). It was also customary at this time to name the child.

The collect and readings for this feast may be found here. Luke tells us,

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:15-21).

The Feast of the Holy Name (traditionally celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision) is a major feast of the Church. It reflects the significance of the Holy Name, Jesus. The name Jesus is from the Hebrew Joshua or Yehoshuah meaning “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh will save.”

At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11).

This feast invites us to a continual remembrance and veneration of the Holy Name in order that God might plant in us, and in every heart, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We say ‘Jesus’ and we rest in a plentitude and totality that can no longer be taken from us. The name of Jesus then becomes a bearer of the whole Christ. It brings us into His total presence. In this presence are found all the realities towards which the name has served as a means of approach: salvation and pardon, the Incarnation and the Transfiguration, the Church and the Eucharist, the Father and the Spirit. All things then appear to us “gathered together in Christ” (Eph.1:10)…If we cling to the name of Jesus, we shall receive the special blessing that the Scripture promises, “Have mercy on me as is Thy custom toward them that love Thy name” (Ps. 119:132). And may the Lord be pleased to say of us what He said of Saul: “He is a chosen vessel of Mine, to bear My name” (Acts 9:15).

– A Monk of the Eastern Church

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