The Most Holy Name
On this Tuesday’s Gospel (Jn 1: 32-34) John the Baptist says : ” I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon Him. I did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, He is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God.”
This past New Year’s Eve my wife and I could have spent the time in an anonymous bar, or in front of the TV, half-a-sleep, drinking. Instead we had the opportunity to go to a chapel in St Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Queens, and wait for the new year in front of the Blessed Sacrament. We were singing songs with the people, praying, looking at Him in silence, realizing that here was Jesus, the Blessed, Living Name, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”(Jn 1:29b)
This event could only have been possible through the efforts of two children of God, Grace and Maria. They arranged it with the parish priests. They invited whomever could make it. They prepared the sheets with songs and prayer. They hauled and provided all this food to be shared afterwards in the church hall. And they led us in song, with their guitar accompaniment, singing in such lovely harmony, like two angels.
I could not help but feel the Spirit of God ” Come down and remain ” upon them, as I have often felt it in their presence before. I did not see a dove, or a halo over their heads. I saw their humanity, the precious humanity that we share with our Lord. Their presence leads me to whisper in my mind the Most Holy Name: “Jesus”.
I have experienced the same phenomenon countless times at the Immaculate Conception Monastery, and Passionist Retreat House in Jamaica, New York. Here, these holy men, priests, prophets, servants, have touched my life in so many ways. They guide me, inspire me, correct me, accept me. They have given me their friendship in God. Yes, what they say and how they say it has great power. What they do is so admirable. But it is their very selves, the invisible light that I feel emanating from their presence, that makes me think,
“Jesus, Son of God”.
In Tuesday’s first reading, the first letter of St John, it says, ” Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure.”
I know that these Passionists are only men, like me, but the hope that I see in their eyes is what gives me the strength to hope that purity is possible, because
“We are God’s children now”.
A number of them, people I came to love, have left us in the past year. I miss them. But I just know that what they truly are has now been ” revealed to them”, that they ” have seen Him as He is”. And I just have to smile and think, ” Jesus, blessed be Your Name”.
On New Year’s Day, my wife and I were walking through the woods in Alley Pond Park, Queens. We passed a couple with their big dog. I didn’t even look at them. I was afraid of the dog, and I didn’t like the man’s face. A friendly voice came from beside me wishing them, “Happy New Year”. With such lovely smiles on their faces the couple answered back in kind. Even the dog seemed friendly. This interchange was started by my beloved wife, Berta, who more and more each day seems to have the Spirit of Love ” come down and remain ‘” with her. I am so grateful to God because so many times she sets me straight and reminds me of Whose child I am, and of what I can become. And I just smile and say ” Jesus, Son of God, thank you. Blessed be Your Name!”.