The Holy Name of Jesus
The Name of Jesus Christ for the believer is like a high fortress-wall. It is not easy for the enemy to cheat his way through the heavy iron gates if our attention is not distracted by outside concerns. The Jesus Prayer gives the soul the strength to resist harmful influences from outside. It does even more. It affords us the possibility of influencing the milieu in which we live—to emerge, as it were, from the inner depths of our mind and heart and mix with our brethren in love and peace. Increasing peace and love, commanded by God, induce ardent prayer for the whole world. The spirit of Christ draws us into expanses of love embracing all creation, so that the soul prays urgently: “O Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, have mercy upon us and upon thy world.”
I remember how invocation of the Name Jesus Christ merged with the presence (invisible) of him, himself. And from that moment this wondrous Name—and other Names of God—have become channels towards unity with him. At that time I was already an ordained priest. The celebration of the Divine Liturgy likewise assumed a different character: it was not only an act untainted by any wavering of faith but a sensation felt all through me of the fact of the presence of God, accomplishing the Mystery. I felt the profound meaning and reality contained in Saint Basil the Great’s words: “Thou hast given us the revelation of heavenly mysteries” (cf. Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great: Offertory Prayer). Yes, the Lord, even unto us the least of men, reveals the mystery of the priestly service. After that, my spirit was given to apprehend in many ways the efficacy of the liturgical office but I do not know whether I can find words to express my experience. The Liturgy as a divine act involves the whole being. There is no querying, How is this possible? For the priest it will be obvious, an ontological fact. “Take—this is my Body . . . Drink—this is my Blood.” And before, I used to take communion, not without faith, not without love, but with a less vivid consciousness of what was happening. Invocation of the Name of Jesus Christ gave me the experience of the blessed—but at the same time fearful—presence of the Eternal God.
“Jesus’ name is a concrete and powerful way of transfiguring men in their deepest and most divine reality. The men and women we meet in the street, factory, office, and especially those who seem to be irritating and unlikable, let us go toward them with Jesus’ name in our heart and on our lips…. If we see Jesus in each man, if we say “Jesus” over each person, we will go through the world with a new vision and with a new gift in our heart. We can thus transform the world, as much as it is within us, and make our own the word Jacob spoke to his brother: “I saw your face and it was like seeing God’s face” (Gn. 33: 10).
Fr. Lev Gillet