January 1 is not only New Year’s Day. It is also the Feast of the Holy Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a time to remember that there is power in the name of Jesus — both in terms of what we can accomplish in his name, and in terms of what we can receive.
We know that Jesus’ name comes from on high. He was not named for his father or for an ancestor, but according to the angel Gabriel’s instruction to his parents. In Hebrew, Jesus is pronounced Yeshua, which means “YHWH saves.” God saves. Jesus’ name describes his very purpose, which is to bring salvation to God’s people.
A few years ago, I started using the name Yeshua in prayer at the suggestion of a fellow priest. He said to spend some time each day in contemplative prayer, eyes closed, focused on your breath. With each breath in, say to yourself, Ye. With each breath out, say to yourself shua. Ye on the way in, shua on the way out.
So I tried it. After doing this for a few weeks, my seventh grade science teacher came to mind. I remembered one day in class when she was explaining atoms. She said there are a finite number of atoms in the universe. There always have been the same number of atoms, and there always will be the same number of atoms. These atoms just take on different forms depending on what kind of matter they make up. It’s possible, therefore, that the atoms we are breathing in now are the same atoms that made up Jesus’ body when he was on earth. And then she said, “It makes you want to breathe as deeply as you can, doesn’t it?!”
I don’t know how likely it is that we might breathe in an atom that was part of Jesus. But I love the concept, nevertheless, especially when praying Jesus’ name and connecting it to my breath. I breathe with Jesus, I walk with Jesus, I express my intention to be near to Jesus — to expand and amplify his presence that is already within me. Ye…shua.
The collect appointed for the Feast of the Holy Name includes this line: “Plant in every heart, we beseech thee, the love of him who is the Savior of the world.” Praying the holy name of Jesus is a way of planting his love in your heart. So I commend this practice to you. Perhaps it can be a New Year’s resolution. Like all spiritual practices, it will strengthen your ministry and maturity. It will soften the soil of your heart. It will bring healing. And, most importantly, it will take you deeper into God’s love for you.