In the name of Jesus

2013-04-06 L’Osservatore Romano

Only the name of Jesus is our salvation.  Only he can save us. And no one else. Even less the modern “magicians” with their improbable tarot card prophecies that bewitch and delude men and women today.

And it was on the name of Jesus that Pope Francis focused his reflection on Friday morning, 5 April, in the Octave of Easter, at the Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae with the participation of the Sediari pontifici (the pontifical chair-bearers), and those in charge, employees and religious of the St John of God Brothers who work at the Vatican Pharmacy.

The Pope drew inspiration in particular from the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:1-12), to think about the value and significance of the name of Jesus. The passage presents the episode of Peter and John who were arrested because they were preaching Christ's Resurrection to the people and were led before the Sanhedrin. To the question as to whether they had healed the cripple at the door of the Temple, Peter answered that they had done so “by the name of Christ”. In the name of Jesus, the Pope repeated, adding: “He is the Saviour, this name, Jesus. When someone says Jesus, it is he himself, that is, the One who works miracles. And this name accompanies us in our heart”.

In John's Gospel too, the Pope added, the Apostles seemed to have taken leave of their senses, “because they had caught nothing after fishing all night. When the Lord asked them for something to eat they were replied somewhat curtly 'no'. Yet “when the Lord told them to 'cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some', perhaps they were thinking of the time when the Lord told Peter to start fishing and he had answered precisely: “We toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets'”.

Then returning to the Acts, Pope Francis explained that “Peter reveals a truth when he says: 'by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth'. Because he answers inspired by the Holy Spirit. In fact we”, he continued, “cannot profess Jesus, we cannot speak of Jesus, we cannot say anything about Jesus without the Holy Spirit”. It is the Holy Spirit himself “who urges us to profess Jesus or to talk about Jesus or to have trust in Jesus”. And is it Jesus himself who is beside us “on our journey through life, always”.

The Pope then recounted a personal experience linked to his memory of a man, the father of eight, who worked for 30 years in the Archiepiscopal Curia of Buenos Aires. “Before going out, before going to do any of the things he had to do”, the Holy Father said, “he would always whisper to himself: 'Jesus!'. I once asked him  'But why do you keep saying “Jesus?”'. 'When I say 'Jesus', this humble man answered me, ‘I feel strong’, I feel able to work because I know he is beside me, that he is keeping me'”. “And yet”, the Pope said, this man “had not studied theology: he had only the grace of Baptism and the power of the Spirit”. And “his witnessing”, Pope Francis then admitted, “did me so much good. The name of Jesus. There is no other name. Perhaps it will to do good to all of us”, who live in a “world that offers us such a multitude of 'saviours'”. At times, “whenever there are problems”, he noted, “people do not commend themselves to Jesus, but to others”, even turning to self-styled “magicians”, “that they may resolve  matters”; or people “go to consult tarot cards”, to find out and understand what they should do. Yet it is not by resorting to magicians or to tarot that salvation is  found: it is “in the name of Jesus. And we should bear witness to this! He is the one Saviour”.

Then he made a reference to the Virgin Mary's role. “Our Lady”, Pope Francis said, “always takes us to Jesus. Call upon Our Lady, and she will do what she did at Cana: 'Do whatever he tells you!'”. She “always leads us to Jesus. She was the first person to act in the name of Jesus”. The Pope concluded by expressing a wish: “today,  which is a day in the week of the Lord's Resurrection, I would like us to think of this: I entrust myself to the name of Jesus; I pray, 'Jesus, Jesus!'”.