What’s in a name?

"IHS" Monogram of The Holy Name - Church of The Gesu, Rome
“IHS” Monogram of The Holy Name – Church of The Gesu, Rome

 

Any mother-to-be, poring over lists of baby names, knows the importance of choosing a name.  She knows this is serious business.  The name should have meaning, giving a clue to shed light on the mystery of the person.  Our names, connected with our face become the basis of our relationship with others.  When we give our own name, and turn our face to others, we are giving something of ourselves.  So too, it is with God.

The Hebrew term for name is “shem” and for face, it is “panim.”  These are both terms which describe relationships.  In fact, “panim” means to see the face of God or the presence of God.  God has a face and a nameThe revelation of the face of God took on a new and beautiful manifestation when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has taught. As fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ gave us a human face that revealed the face of God.  He says, “While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh;  He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face!”  The Son of God was made man He is given a Name, Jesus.  The one who “saves His people from sin.”  Through His Face and His Name, He gives us Himself.

There is a direct connection between the Holy Face and the Name of God.  Jesus shows us the face of the Father, as He told His disciples:  “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  Jesus also makes known to us the Name of God, as He said at the Last Supper when praying to His Father, “I have made Your Name known to them.”  The expression “Name of God” means God as He who is present among men.  His Name is a concrete sign of His Existence.

Because of the profound connection between our relationship with God and His Name and Face,image-20 sins committed against this relationship with Him are reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ.  When a man’s name is slandered, or reviled, those insults are reflected on his face.  So too, in the Passion, the Face of Our Lord was beaten, bloodied, bruised, spit upon.

How are sins against our personal relationship with God revealed in His Face?  The manifestation of our sins on His Countenance come through blasphemy, atheism, disrespect of God in Sacred things, the profanation of Sunday, hatred of God’s Church.  These indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Face represent the most serious sins, because they are against God Himself.

St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face
St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face

The damage done by our sins to our relationship with God are reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ.  For this reason, devotion and reparation to the Holy Face is fitting in order to make amends for what we have done.  By prayers and act of reparations we are performing the office of Veronica, the model of reparation to the Holy Face, in wiping the Face of Jesus and restoring dignity to His Holy Name and in a small way repairing mankind’s relationship with God.

 

 

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