In one of my classes that prepares us for the Deaconate, we had a lay minister from the Archdiocese come speak to us about evangelizing through the role as deacon at the Mass. She steered our conversation to the importance of pointing to Jesus, through our prayerful gestures and the words we will speak as deacons. She emphasized that the true aim of evangelization is not simply to know about Jesus, but to know Him personally.
This necessity was evident to me this summer as a chaplain at a hospital, ministering to patients of various faith traditions. I was nervous beginning this new ministry. I did not wear the Roman collar; I did not have Holy Communion to bring to them. I had only a listening ear and an invitation to pray at the end of the visit. As I became more comfortable praying, I remembered something else I could give to them, the Name of Jesus. When I would pray “in Jesus’s Name” with all the Christian patients I was met with a surprise. Invoking the Name of Jesus stirred their hearts more easily, particularly more easily than before when I did not invoke His Holy Name.
Remember St. Peter, who told the lame man that he had nothing to give him, except his faith by invoking the Name of Jesus Christ. Another “Peter”, Peter Kreeft, comments with some humor that the Name of Jesus spoken in conversation will silence any cocktail party. The Name of Jesus has power that can awaken the heart. Tragically though, Our Lord’s Name is slandered and used when invoking anger in most TV shows and movies. What can we do? Answer back in prayer. Recall how we pray in the Our Father, “hallowed (to bless) be Thy Name.” Point to the sacredness of Jesus’ Name when it is slandered, by saying, whispering, or silently praying, “Blessed be His Holy Name.”
Hank Lyon is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago studying at Mundelein Seminary and assigned to Saint Juliana for his pastoral formation.