Let’s Talk About Jesus

May 8, 2013 | 4 comments

In a recent conversation with a convert to the Faith, the point was made that, as Catholics, our public discourse often suffers a noticable lack: we don’t talk much about Jesus.

We talk about abortion, canon law, the magisterium, Church history, principles of apologetics, natural law, "faith," virtue, sacraments, grace, divine Providence, the priesthood, liberalism, social justice, the criteria for the worthily reception of Holy Communion, pornography, Calvinism, contraception -- and well we should.

But plainly personal talk about Jesus?

My homespun theory as to why we habitually avoid talking in a simple direct way about What's His Name of Nazareth is this: deep down, we think it’s for simpletons.

Those of us engaged in higher-level apologetics are particularly prey to the subtle (?) temptation to present an image of ourselves as intelligent, subtle, ironic even. Sure, so the mental habit goes, salvation is important, but sophistication is awfully cool.

Unvarnished "sharing Jesus" is fine for one-note Protestants and for the hoi polloi Catholic faithful. But whether it increases my chances of being thought of as a True Innerleckshul is another question. 

The truth is, in fact, scandalously simple: the source of all things Catholic is our Lord Jesus Christ, whose holy name is the only one under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). I hope this doesn’t offend pious ears, but I suspect that one reason for the subconscious preference for “Christ” over “Jesus” in daily usage is that the former is a title, the latter a name. A title is a few degrees more remote from my heart, and safer by far. A name (if I'm not careful) brings me immediately into a precinct of intimacy and vulnerability.

Of course, the reticence to talk about Jesus does not exactly square with the biblical data. The word of God emphasizes in numerous places how the name of Jesus is attached to all manner of divine helps and blessings. Start the list with:

  • "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23), the truth of which provides the basis for the traditional endings to liturgical prayers: "Through our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.

This is not to disparage the intellectual life or to wave the flag of a naive fideism. Catholics love truth wherever it’s found, and we can justly boast of 2000 years’ worth of brilliant men and women of science, philosophy and theology.

Still, only one Person in history described himself as the truth. And we love the Church because we love him. If Jesus becomes our mascot and not our Savior, we’re in it for the wrong reasons.  I say we bring up the mighty name of Jesus at that cocktail party. Drop it in at the 19th hole. Lay it on your atheism co-worker in the next cubicle. The name is not magic, but it does have power, as Peter Kreeft explains in his zinger of a book book, Jesus Shock.

The editors and reporters over at MSNBC and The New York Times may have an excuse for omitting references to What’s His Name of Nazareth. 

Do we?


Patrick Coffin is the host of the top-rated national radio show, Catholic Answers Live and the popular podcast Catholic Answers Focus. He has degrees in theology and philosophy from McGill University in Montreal and Franciscan University of Steubenville. Patrick has appeared on...

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Dick Martin - Frazeysburg, Ohio

Who is Jesus ?
Colossians 1:15-22
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. ( First Place).
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— This quote is about Jesus. Passage says all things were created by Him.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This very well known verse says Jesus is the God mentioned here. Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness
Notice the usage of (US ;Our) signifying more than one person in this statement.
***** 2:13
looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Here Jesus Is called God.
Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Jesus is called Mighty God and Everlasting Father.
John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Vs.14- The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
This passage in the Gospel of John is the same as in Genesis 1. Jesus is the creator. Jesus was there in the beginning. Jesus is the Word. When we are Born Again we are alive to God as much Jesus was at His earthly Birth.
When we are Baptized in the Holy Spirit We are anointed By God as Jesus was.
Jesus relied on receiving Power from the anointing of the Holy Spirit to Heal the Sick and lay hands on people just as we can.
Jesus prayed to the Father to receive instruction and revelation just as we should .
Jesus was never sick all of his life, just as we can be. Jesus had provision from God as we have. Jesus had to apply Faith to everything as we need too also. We are free from Sin Just as Jesus was and is. We have Eternal security, Thanks to Jesus. We are Heirs of the New testament because of the Death of Jesus Jesus said the things you see me doing, it is the Father doing them. Even greater things you can do than you see me doing.

January 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm PST
#2  Dick Martin - Frazeysburg, Ohio

Patrick, In reading your intro about bring up Jesus at cocktail parties. I tried to do just that at my 50th. class reunion from my Catholic school days. One of the ladies of my class interrupted me by saying ;JESUS,JESUS,JESUS I'm sick and tired of hearing that Name. I hoped she would realize how important that name would have to become for all eternity for us is in that Name. NO one comes to the Father but by ME.
Acts 4:11-12
This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Philippians 2:9-11
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This Lady's emphases was built in all of her life to go to Mary for Her needs. Some one will pay dearly for that Fairy Tale. Yes, Mary has her place as a normal human being with original sin just like the rest of us. I'm sure she is in heaven today for saying yes to the Holy Spirit and becoming Jesus's Mother.

April 25, 2014 at 7:36 am PST
#3  Dick Martin - Frazeysburg, Ohio

My favorite poem. Author unknown.
I sinned and straightway, posthaste, Satan flew
Before the presence of the most high God,
And made a railing accusation there.
He said, Athis soul, this thing of clay and sod,
Has sinned. tis true that he has named thy name,
But I demand his death, for thou hast said,
The soul that sinneth, he shall die.= shall not thy
Sentence be fulfilled? Is justice dead?
Send now this wretched sinner to his doom.
What other thing can righteous ruler do?
And thus he did accuse me day and night,
And every word he spoke, O God, was true!
Then quickly one rose up from God's right hand,
Before whose glory angels veiled their eyes,
He spoke, each jot and tittle of the law

Must be fulfilled; the guilty sinner dies!
But wait suppose his guilt were transferred
To me, and that I paid his penalty!
Behold my hands, my side, my feet! One day
I was made sin for him, and he died that he
Might be presented faultless, at thy throne!
And Satan fled away. Full well he knew
That he could not prevail against such love

May 2, 2014 at 7:26 am PST
#4  Dick Martin - Frazeysburg, Ohio

God presents Two Doors to choose to enter. One door is named Justice; The second Door is called Mercy. Looking back into your life, God tells you that you are Lost and WITHOUT Hope. The bible says we have all Sinned and fall short of saving yourself and without Jesus you will have already chosen Door No. 1. God is a Just God. You will be Judged for your Sins; and the wages of sin is spiritual DEATH. Judged by the Law. God will cast you into outer darkness. " I don't know you". Jesus came to us to substituted Himself for us in our place. If you believe this and accept this FREE gift, and confess (or tell someone) with your mouth you can choose Door no.2 God sees your condition and He applies MERCY. You are righteous in His sight. When you accept Jesus you are judged already. In Roman 8:2 ; it says you are not under the Law of sin and Death; but you are now under a new law ; The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. You and God are One. Receive Him Today.

May 2, 2014 at 7:56 am PST

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