The name Jesus pronounced in Hebrew goes something like this: Ye-ho-shoo-ah. Try saying it out loud: Ye-ho-shoo-ah. What does that mean?

The other day, a friend down here asked me if I could find a place for him to stay in the parish and be involved. I said to him, “you don’t know me very well.” Now, it might seem like I’m an important guy in the parish, I am a catechist, I lead celebrations of the Word, I live in the parish house. But I don’t have any influence in the parish life. I don’t have an official office. I don’t have transportation, I rely on the bus or a ride. I don’t have a cook or someone that does my laundry. And I am the last to know about what is going on in the parish. When people come and ask where is Padre Martin, I have to say, “I don’t know.” When is he coming back. “I don’t know.”

Now you might say to me, Jerome, why don’t you go somewhere where things are smoother and easier. I would answer you, no way. These struggles are important to me. They make me need God. That way, when He comes, He’ll lift me up again, give me His strength, His light to solve my problems, His mercy and forgiveness, His presence. He’ll give me His Spirit, and I’ll get inspired again and lift my eyes up to God and say, “Ye-ho-shoo-ah!”

Let’s look at the two men in the Gospel. First, the Pharisee comes to Mass like he does every week and he regularly receives the sacraments. He has a stable job that everyone respects – maybe a laborer or office professional – and a home and wife and kids. He regularly receives the sacraments, and he knows his religion and he tries to live a good, moral life. After the Mass, he goes home and has a meal with the family, watches TV, maybe does a few chores or errands, spends some quality family time, and at the end of the night goes to bed happy.

Now, the second guy, the publican, comes into the church. He is divorced, the kids are separated and with his ex-wife. He has an alcohol problem and an anger problem. He has a hard time keeping a job, and the one he has now nobody respects. He hasn’t been to a church in years, and he doesn’t know what the word catechism means. And he calls out to God. Now, see, he’s gonna get lifted up. He’s going to get God’s mercy and forgiveness, God’s going to give him His strength, His light to solve his problems, His presence. And soon, that publican is going to be so inspired, he’ll lift his eyes up to God and say, “Ye-ho-shoo-ah!”

That’s what the name Jesus means, that’s “Ye-ho-shoo-ah”. It means coming to God in all your brokenness and failures and sins, with your mess in life and all the junk that has been done to you. It means calling out to Him and experiencing His mercy and forgiveness, His presence and peace, the gift of His light to resolve your problems, receiving His Spirit and getting inspired to raise your eyes to God and say out loud, in your own language:

“God saves!”

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