Jesus, the Holy Name Behind the Church

Catholic New York – May 3, 2012

You ever hear of Holy Name Hospital? It’s over in New Jersey, a good Catholic health care institution from what I hear.

A month or so ago, I met a woman who works there. She said that one of the patients asked her, “What’s the name of the person who gave all the money to build this place?”

She was a little confused and inquired, “What person do you mean?”

The patient replied, “Well, I guess some rich person gave so much money that they called his name holy, and that’s who the hospital is dedicated to.”

She, of course, explained that, no, as a matter of fact, the hospital was dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Then there’s Sacred Heart Hospital. A nurse told me that a person called there to make an appointment for a cardiac exam, explaining, “If you all think my heart is so important that you consider it sacred, I want to go there for my tests.” She, too, had to explain that the hospital was dedicated, not to his heart—as important as that was!—but to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In our readings at daily Mass this Easter season, we often hear from the Acts of the Apostles. There we read that the earliest followers of our Lord were often arrested, hauled into court, and punished brutally because of the Name.

“We told you to stop preaching that Name!” the religious leaders warned them.

And, after being scourged, the Bible records that the apostles “…left rejoicing for their suffering for the sake of the Name.”

Jesus: the Name above every other name!

Everything that we in the Church do—teach, heal, serve, sanctify, feed, clothe, organize, pray—we do in, for, through, because of the Name.

Recently, our Catholic Charities honored Dr. John Ruskay, the CEO of the UJA-Federation, with its Good Neighbor Award. John is a faithful Jew, and he gave an excellent address reminding his Catholic audience that both the UJA–Federation and Catholic Charities are renowned and effective not just for what they do—feed, heal, house, welcome, educate, teach, care for—but for why and for whom they do it: for the Lord!

For the Name of God…

For the Name of Jesus…

For the Holy Name…

For the Sacred Heart…

Last week, I was asked to toast the most influential person in my life. The glamorous occasion was a glittering banquet for those chosen by Time magazine as “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Can I share my toast with you?

“Good evening, everybody. It sure is a joy and an honor to be here with you, such distinguished and gracious company.

When the extraordinarily gracious folks from Time magazine came to visit with me in preparation for this happy occasion, one of them asked who I would consider the most influential person in my life. ‘That’s a no-brainer,’ I replied. ‘Jesus Christ is the most influential person in my life.’

The kind journalist clarified: ‘I’m sorry, I should have been more precise: the person has to be alive now.’

‘Same answer!’ I came back. ‘Jesus Christ!’

Jesus Christ is alive; that’s the significance of the feast we celebrated two weeks ago, on the Sunday called Easter.

‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ the angel asked those faithful women at the empty tomb down the slope from a hill called Calvary where He had been executed three days prior on a Friday strangely termed Good.

Colleagues, neighbors and friends: thanks for letting me toast this most influential person, confident as I am that many of you share my sentiments.

I admit He is a person of bewildering paradox:

true God, yet true man;

God’s son, yet born in a stable;

architect of the world, without a home of His own;

creator of the world’s resources, yet Himself possessing only the seamless garment He wore to the cross for which His executioners cast lots;

a king whose throne was a cross, whose crown was of thorns;

coming to bring mercy, but Himself condemned to death;

dead at a mere 33, yet alive forever;

a man of peace, whose followers have tragically waged violence in His Holy Name;

a man of love whose heart is broken by the sin, hatred, and division in the members of the Church He founded, even in its leaders, including me.

Yet, He never gives up on us, asking only our love, faith, and trust;

I toast Him as my Lord and Savior;

I toast Him as my best friend;

I believe He’s here with us this evening, He who invites each of us to enjoy with Him a future banquet of eternal life in heaven.

And I toast all of you influential people for your patience in letting me toast Jesus Christ, the most influential person in my life.”

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