There is a Religious sister from Ireland, by the name of Sr. Briege McKenna. I think she lives in Florida a lot of the time. Sr. Briege is a sister of St. Clare, whom God has called to an extraordinary ministry of healing and to priests. She travels all over the world and many physical miracles have occurred when she has prayed with people. Everywhere she goes she always draws huge crowds. She has written a book called Miracles Do Happen, which is well worth reading.
Some years back she was invited on the Oprah Winfrey show, which I’m sure many of you know is one of the most popular chat shows in America. It has a viewership of something like 18m. Sr. Briege was invited on the show to talk about her work and her ministry. Oprah was asking her about the healings and miracles which often take place and Sr. Briege was saying that it is through name of Jesus that these things take place, just like it mentions in today’s first reading. And then suddenly Oprah said to her, ‘But Sr. Briege isn’t the name of Jesus just another name. There isn’t really anything special about it?’ And sister Briege said that in her head all these alarm bells started going off and she realised that what she would say next was really crucial. And she said, ‘No, it isn’t just another name. It is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved.’ In the first reading today, it says, ‘Of all the names in the world given to us, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’ Because the name of Jesus isn’t just another name, just as Jesus isn’t just another person, and Christianity isn’t just another religion. Jesus is the Way to God. It is only in Jesus, that our lives make any sense. Without him we are just creatures with no purpose.
God calls us to share in his own divine life. We are getting ready to be with God forever. God has created us in his image, meaning He has given us the gift of free will and the ability to love. That is why we have such dignity, such worth, as people. God has also called us to share in his life and that’s what makes us very different from any other creature that God has made.
Many people around us, many of the people we love, are living as if this life was the only one and so many have become selfish and greedy, because they are trying to find fulfillment in this world. Nothing this world can give us will ever make us completely happy, because God has made us in such a way that we will only be complete in him. We will only find true fulfillment in him and Jesus is, you could say, the doorway, to God. That is what this Gospel reading is about. It’s about Jesus bringing all people to himself, which he will do. It says in the letter to the Philipians, ‘All creatures, in the heavens, on earth and under the earth will bend the knee at the name of Jesus, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord…’ One day, all people will recognise that Jesus Christ is the Lord.
But what do we mean when we say that we are ‘saved’ by Jesus? Saved from what? Saved from the emptiness of what the world offers. Saved from the destructive power of sin and of evil. Saved from loneliness, and saved especially from meaninglessness. Only in God does this life make any sense. We do not make sense without him. The very name of Jesus means, ‘who saves’.
We are all destined to go to heaven. That is what we have been created for. That is what God has planned for us. If we reject God, then we get hell, which is the complete loss of God and all that that would mean. But it is one or the other, there is no where else. There is no neutral ground. And so we must choose for Jesus, because he is the way to God.
Imagine if the Pope was suddenly to visit this church, right now. Wouldn’t you love to be able to shake his hand? Wouldn’t you feel privileged if you could? The Pope isn’t going to be here, but Jesus is. And Jesus will do more than shake your hand. He will come to us in such a way that we can take him into ourselves, in Holy Communion. Don’t trade him for useless wealth that will not bring you happiness. Jesus is the one who will fulfil us. Only in Jesus does our life make sense.
‘Of all the names in the world given to us, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’