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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reflection on Sunday's Reading: What's With all the Bowing?

Some Christians, especially Roman Catholics and Anglicans, bow their heads briefly every time they hear the name of Jesus.  Did you know that?
Photo: Public domain, click for license

Here is why:
Philippians 2: 9-11:
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, in Heaven, and on Earth, and under the Earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

The name of Jesus is powerful.

I suppose that Christians who do not follow these types of practices may feel that they are “man made” or “religious posturing”.  It is my experience, though, that these types of practices are consistently rooted in the word of God.  They can bless the life of a Christian, if used authentically and meaningfully.

By bowing our heads at his name, we are pledging ourselves to him; we are declaring that he is Lord.

Bowing one’s head at the name of Jesus has a rather pragmatic effect; it fosters paying attention.  It also draws one in to the hearing of the Word in a “full body” way.  We actually insert ourselves, body and soul, into the hearing.

Tipping one’s chin toward one’s chest is all that is needed.  Traditionally, men removed their hats and tipped their heads.  Oh that one might witness that today, but alas, we live in a different age.

Today we celebrate The Feast of The Holy Name of Jesus.  Being eight days after Christmas, it is the day of circumcision, on which a name was given.  That’s why Philippians 2: 9-11 is the epistle reading for today. 

Photo: Jastrow, click for license

In the Middle Ages, the name of Jesus was written: IHESUS….so, the emblem of the Holy Name is: IHS.  I have often heard people mistakenly identify this emblem as meaning, “In His Service”…which is not a bad thing to have an emblem for, but…IHS is not it.

It's one of the primary things that draws us together as Christians, isn't it...calling upon his name, calling him Lord?  Therefore, let us reflect upon his name on this day, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.  He is Lord.

Wishing you a marvelous week!
Thursday is Twelfth Night; Friday we enter the season of Epiphany.

Pax Christi,
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  1. Oh what a wonderful post! I completely agree with you - we should bow at the name of our Lord. I am moved every time I witness someone doing this. I just wish I saw it more often. Thank you for writing about something so important - remembering and paying homage, honor, and glory to our Lord. He definitely deserves it! Thanks for linking up with NOBH. Happy New Year -

  2. Hi,
    My family heritage was a mixture of Catholic and lost. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of the time I spent at church with my Catholic grandmother. I do remember a reverence for God that was wonderful.

    When I was saved many years later, I went attended a "Christian" church. I didn't even know it was a denomination back then.

    I am currently attending a non-denominational church with a pentecostal flavor.

    I find the things you are writing about fascinating. Thank you for taking time to explain things from the Catholic perspective.

    I also want to thank you for following me at Harvest Lane Cottage. I'll be following you as well. Sometimes it shows up as Laura Lane; sometimes it shows up as Blogging with Momma.

    Blessings to you!

    Laura Lane

  3. I really appreciated the heart behind the actions explained...honoring our Lord and Savior.
    Thank you for sharing with NOBH...
    ~Kara @ The Chuppies

  4. I've really been enjoying reading your blog. A friend linked to it via pinterest.

    However, IHS comes from Constantine. It was what was on his banners and shields. It came from his vision of the cross and Christ's voice that told him he would conquer in this sign (the cross). In Hoc Signe Vincit (Conquer in this sign). That is why there is the cross above and the IHS beneath.

    1. Thanks for visiting and thanks for your kind words. Yes, it is good that you point this out. Thank you. The monogram IHS has two separate roots of historical significance in Christianity. When Constantine looked up to the sun and saw a cross of light above it, with the Greek words for “In this win”, or “In this sign you will conquer”, (which in the Latinized version is “In hoc signo vinces, or IHS), the history of Christianity made a hugely significant turn. This was, indeed, the earlier meaning of the monogram.
      In a later period, in Medieval Christian Europe, IHS, (the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus), became the most common Christogram of that day. This tradition continues through much of Western Catholic and Protestant Christianity to this day. I believe, though I may be incorrect, that the most common Christogram in the Eastern churches, is ICXC, which is another traditional abbreviation for the name of Christ in Greek.


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