January 3 The Name of Jesus, great foundation of faith A sermon of St Bernardine of Siena
Great therefore is the Name of Jesus, foundation of the faith, making us children of God. For the faith of the Catholic religion consists in bringing us the knowledge of Jesus Christ and light: he is the light of the soul, the door to life, the foundation of eternal salvation. So if a man does not have this light or has left it, he walks through the darkness of the night as one without light and, with eyes closed, rushing among dangers and, however bright the excellence of his reason may be, he is following a blind guide in seeking to understand the heavenly mysteries with his own intellect; or in trying to build a house but neglecting the foundation; or, forgetting the door, wanting to enter through the roof.
Jesus is, therefore, this foundation, light and door, who, to show himself as the way to those who had gone astray, brought to everyone the light of faith, by which the unknown God can be sought and, sought, can be believed and, believed, can be found. This foundation sustains the Church, built in the Name of Jesus. The Name of Jesus is the splendour of preachers, because with luminous splendour it announces his word and makes it heard. How do you think the light of faith spread across the globe so much, so quickly and so fervently, if not by Jesus being preached? Did not God call us into his admirable light by the light and taste of this name? Because we have been enlightened and have seen the light in that light, Paul rightly says: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light”.
This indeed is that most Holy Name which was so desired by the patriarchs of old, so anxiously longed for, so long awaited with so much suffering, so much invoked with so many sighs, so begged for with so many tears, but then mercifully given in the time of grace. Hide, I plead, the name of power, may the name of vengeance not be heard, the name of justice be held back. Give us the name of mercy, may the Name of Jesus sound in my ears, because truly then sweet is your voice, and beautiful your face. O, therefore, glorious name, O gracious name, O lovable and virtuous name! Through you crimes are forgiven, through you enemies are defeated, through you the weak are set free, through you those suffering adversities are comforted and cheered. You, honour of believers; you, teacher of preachers; you, strengthener of those who work; you, sustainer of those who weaken. Thanks to your burning fervour and warmth desires are enkindled, petitions made, contemplating souls intoxicated and, through you, all are glorified triumphing in heavenly glory. With them, O most sweet Jesus, make us reign through this your most holy Name.
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