January is traditionally the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. Pope John Paul II restored January 3 as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but it has been celebrated in the Church since at least Medieval times. The feast commemorates the circumcision of Christ, the day he received the name Jesus. When a Jewish child was circumcised, he was accepted as a son of Abraham and a full member of his family. The Christian practice of infant baptism was adapted from this Hebrew ritual.
We honor the Holy Name because of the command of Christ: that we should pray in His name. “Holy Father, protect them in Your Name that You have given Me” (Jn 17:11-12). As St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil 2:10). By means of this devotion, we also make amends for improper use of the Holy Name and it is for this reason many Catholics bow their head whenever the name of Jesus is spoken in their presence.
An interesting connection with this feast is a Christogram found in many Christian churches. The Christogram is a type of monogram that represents Christ. This particular Christogram is comprised of the letters: I, H, and S. It comes from the first three letters of the Greek name for Jesus. Today would be a great time to teach a child about this symbol and its meaning. And the next time you’re in a church, look for this visual reminder of Jesus’ Most Holy Name!