And He was called Jesus.
Today, St Joseph, the father figure for the Infant God, in the fullness of the paternal rights he has been given over the newborn King, pronounces for the first time, and imposes upon Him that name which has been loved and revered by countless souls throughout the centuries, that Name that has been adored by legions of Christian souls, that Name which in itself is a prayer and a praise: Jesus, the Saviour, Who has come to save us from our sins.
Some thirty years later, in his speech to the Sanhedrin, after the healing of the crippled man at the Temple Gate, St Peter boldly proclaimed: Be it known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him, this man standeth here before you, whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:10-12).
There is no salvation in any other. Such is the first proclamation of the Gospel, such is the essential message which the Church must proclaim in every age. Such is THE truth upon which her entire existence is built. It is the truth for which the martyrs shed their blood, the priests exhausted themselves in preaching and administering the sacraments, the virgins and monks chastised their flesh and gave up the pleasures of the world, Christian parents accepted all the children God wanted to give them and brought them up in the fear of God. It is the truth which, out of the chaos of paganism, brought forth the marvel of Christendom, those centuries of faith during which the beauty of the Gospel truth was revered by all, leading souls to embrace the trials of the present life in view of a blessed eternity. It is because of this truth – the certitude that in the Name of Jesus alone eternal salvation is to be found – that generations of Christians were delighted to embrace a bit of austerity and lose the favours of the world: they KNEW that an eternal reward awaited them beyond those mysterious gates of death which loom closer with each passing day. This is the truth which the Catholic Church must reclaim anew today. It is the only way She can reform herself and once again be the Light of Nations.
There is no salvation in any other. Any attempt to posit salvation in any other form is doomed to failure. St Peter, in the above quoted text, tells the incredulous Jews that Jesus is the stone which was rejected by the builders and which has become the cornerstone, as prophesied by Psalm 117. That quotation sends us straight to the words Our Blessed Lord Himself pronounced just a few weeks before in the parable of the vineyard: Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder (Mt 21:44). On whomsoever it shall fall, it shall ground him to powder!
This is one of those words of the Gospel that one easily passes over, as being unpleasant to hear, not in harmony with the age, unacceptable to our modern mentality. And yet, there it is; it is Our Sweet Lord Himself, the Good Shepherd, who tells us that He is the stone, a stone which breaks anyone who falls upon it, that is to say, who seeks to destroy it, to fraction it, to reduce it, to polish it, to transform it, to do away with it. Such efforts, any effort to water down the Gospel or forge a Jesus to our liking or chisel out and give us other gods or other names to bless ourselves, or other pursuits more in harmony with so called “modern man” (as if he were another species or anything but man!), are not only doomed to failure because they are powerless and lifeless, but – and this is a warning from the sacred lips of Our Saviour – they break those who are responsible for them. Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
No, the Babe whose birth we celebrate today, is not a spineless weakling, preaching a cheap, worthless camaraderie among human beings, teaching people to “be nice” and “not rock the boat”. No, this Babe is the King who is come to save souls from eternal damnation one by one. As Psalm 2 proclaims, He shall rule with a rod of iron, and shalt break into pieces those who resist. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage… I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment. (cf. Ps 2).
On this day, my dear Friends, let us renew our devotion for the Most Holy Name of Jesus, let us adore it and savour it. Let us discover ever more its riches, its power to heal and to save. Let us not be afraid to pronounce it, even to those who may reject it. May it grind them to powder, that is to say, may it break open their hardened hearts to His divine grace. For God does not despise a broken and humbled heart (Ps 50). For a heart of stone to be broken open takes effort. May the Name of Jesus be praised, may it convert sinners, and may its sweetness be known to those who seek Him with undivided hearts.