Commentary of the Day

"You shall name him Jesus"
by Saint Bede the Venerable (c.673-735), monk, Doctor of the Church

The name “Jesus” in Hebrew means “salvation” or “Savior”. It is a name that for the prophets referred to a very specific vocation. From whence came these words, sung with great desire to see him: “My heart will rejoice in your salvation and will be joyful because of his salvation; my soul pines for your salvation” (Ps 12[13]:6 ;34[35]:9 ;118[119]:81). “Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God” (Hab 3:18). And especially: “O God, by your name save me” (Ps 53[54]:3). It is as though one were to say: “O you who are called ‘Savior’, by saving me manifest the glory of your name.” And so the name of the son born of the Virgin Mary is Jesus, according to the angel’s explanation: “He will save his people from their sins”…As for the word “Christ”, this designates priestly or royal status. Priests and kings were in fact “chrismated”, that is to say anointed with holy oil. By this means they became signs of him who, appearing in the world as true king and high priest, received the anointing of “the oil of gladness above your fellows” (Ps 44[45]:8). It is because of this anointing that he is called Christ and those who share in this same anointing, that of spiritual grace, are called Christians. May he grant through his name of Savior to save us from our sins! May he grant through his anointing as high priest to reconcile us with God the Father. Through his anointing as king may he give us the eternal kingdom of his Father.

From: Homily 5; CCL 122,36