Revere God’s Holy Name

Summary of Catechism paragraphs 2142-67, 2808-12:

  • The Second Commandment follows logically from the First: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
  • By revealing His name, God establishes a personal relationship with us, entrusting us with an aspect of His divine mystery; if we fail to show the respect due to His name, we abuse and violate this gift of friendship.
  • God’s name evokes His majesty – YHWH, “I Am Who Am,” the fundamental ground of all being, encompassing every beauty and perfection; to protect the inviolability of the name of YHWH, the Jewish people have substituted the term Adonai (“Lord”) for it, lest it be pronounced unworthily.
  • When the Son of God became man, He took on a deeply significant name: “Jesus,” meaning “God saves,” sums up His work of salvation; the title of “Christ” conveys His “anointing” by the Holy Spirit as priest, prophet, and king.
  • Ever mindful of God’s sublime holiness, heroes of faith through the ages have been filled with zeal for His holy name; so should we, who are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – the Most Holy Trinity.
  • Blasphemy is therefore a grave sin; it ranges from irreverent use of God’s name to expressions of mockery, contempt, or hatred toward God as well as toward the Church, the saints, and things consecrated to Him.
  • We also sin against this commandment when we do not keep promises or oaths made in God’s name; through such a failure on our part, we implicate God, so to speak, in our own lack of fidelity.
  • That is why perjury – the deliberate violation of an oath, or the swearing of a false oath without meaning to keep it – is so grave; God is Truth, yet we misuse His name to promote a lie.
  • For the same reason, we must refuse to take any oath that goes against the dignity of the human person or that harms our unity in the Church, the Body of Christ; we should not take any oath at all unless it is strictly necessary for the sake of truth or justice and administered by legitimate authorities (as in court).
  • Our name is likewise worthy of respect, for it reflects our dignity as a human person and a child of God; our unique individuality will radiate in a special way in His heavenly kingdom.

Live Your Faith

Blasphemy is sadly so common these days that we’re desensitized to it, no longer finding it shocking or offensive. We would react with righteous anger if anyone mocked or otherwise abused the names of our parents, spouse, or children. Yet do we even bat an eye when Our Lord is dishonored?

At a minimum we should guard our own speech and preserve reverence for His sacred name. If someone blasphemes in our presence, let us charitably ask them not to hurt us in this way. Let us also make reparation to Our Lord by offering our own acts of love.