03 September 2011

The Sacred Name of Jesus is the Sacred Name of God

When God revealed his name to Moses, he revealed his name but at the same time he did not.  The name he revealed to Moses is YHWH (at the time Hebrew did not make written use of vowels); that is, I am He who was, who is and who will be (or something very like it; it is a difficult name to translate).
In giving this name, "He reveals the truth about who He is, but He refuses to take on himself a name like any other name, as it He were just one more in a long list of gods and goddesses who might be useful to Moses" (Bertram, Jesus, Teach Us to Pray, 77).
For this reason the Jews would not utter the Divine Name.  For this same reason the Holy See recently reminded Christians that they ought not to speak this name, either.  As Pope Benedict XVI has written, "The Israelites were perfectly right in refusing to utter this self-designation of God, expressed in the word YHWH, so as to avoid degrading it to the level of names of pagan deities.  By the same token, recent Bible translations were wrong to write out this name - which Israel always regarded as mysterious and unutterable - as if it were just any old name" (Jesus of Nazareth, 143).
Picking up where the Pope left off, Father Bertram left me quite speechless for a time when I read these words:
Writing out that Name is something that causes scandal and offence to the Jews, but never more so than when that Name was written up over the body of an executed criminal.  By one of the most bizarre workings of Providence, a Jewish hand wrote this, at the dictation of a pagan:
Yehoshua HaNozri, WuMelek HaYehudim
Jesus the Nazarene, and King of the Jews.

Pilate surely did not know or realize what prophecy he was uttering, though he claimed responsibility for it: "What I have written, I have written" (John 19:19, 22).  The Name that was so publicly disgraced has become the "Name above all other Names" (Philippians 2:9).  That is why we are to keep it holy (78).
I only hope I remember this come Good Friday.

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