First Reading: Exodus 12:37-42
And the people of Israel journeyed from Ram’eses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very many cattle, both flocks and herds. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any provisions. The time that the people of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 136:1, 23-24, 10-15
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever. To him who smote the first-born of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures for ever; 11and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures for ever; with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures for ever; to him who divided the Red Sea in sunder, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures for ever; but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures for ever; It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Gospel: Matthew 12:14-21
But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him, how to destroy him. Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all, and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will any one hear his voice in the streets; he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he brings justice to victory; and in his name will the Gentiles hope.”
There have been a few times that, quite memorably, I was so horribly distressed by a situation that I was unable to say anything beyond the name of Jesus. I remember being so terrified yet so utterly grateful that His name came to my lips, as I truly believe His name alone is an extraordinarily powerful prayer.
In the early days of the Church, the Apostles were flogged and ordered by the Jewish authorities not to speak in the name of Jesus. Those same men left the Sanhedrin, according to the Book of Acts, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” Why were the authorities so afraid of Jesus’s name, and why did the Apostles rejoice?
Later in Acts, Saint Paul says he is willing to be imprisoned and to die for the name.
As recently as this past winter, twenty one men proclaimed, “Ya Rabbi Yasou (My Lord Jesus),” before they were brutally slaughtered for their Christian faith.
Why? Why would someone die for a name?
Because, my friends. The name of Jesus is not just any name. It is THE NAME above all names. As Saint Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians:
Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (2:9-11)
That passage gives me chills. Every time. Because there is no name greater than the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. His name causes demons to flee. His name casts out all fear. His name heals all our infirmities. His name frees us and sanctifies us and makes us holy. And, my sisters, His name saves.
As today’s Gospel tells us, there is unparalleled hope in His name—hope that we may be forgiven, righteous, and redeemed. Do we live in the reality of this hope? Do we believe that, one day, we, too may be with Him in Paradise?
My dear sister in Christ, what is keeping you from calling upon His name today? Do not despair, and do not be afraid. Mercy, healing, and salvation are waiting for you—if only you call upon the precious and powerful Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Heather Renshaw is a writer, speaker, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the Pacific NW. You can learn more abut her here.