The Power of the Holy Name of Jesus

One morning, over a decade ago, I buckled my baby into our jog stroller and headed out into our neighborhood for what I thought would be a peaceful stroll. As I came around a corner, I was jolted out of my thoughts by a dog barking. Looking up the road, I saw an aggressive, agitated pit bull tearing towards us. (I liked big dogs, grew up with dogs, and was not normally afraid of dogs—yet I had no doubt that, for whatever unknown reason, this dog was threatening to attack.)

With terror, I realized that he was charging right at my baby’s level. While I would have done anything in my power to protect my child, instinctively I knew that there was no earthly way I would be able to fend off the animal by myself. The dog was too fast, too strong, and too close. A desperate cry welled up within me as I frantically tried to escape. I had time to do only one thing.

“Jesus!” I screamed wildly. “Help!”

At that very second, a car came over the hill and laid on its horn. At the sound of the loud, long honking that did not stop, the dog bolted in the other direction. The car pulled up next to me, and a middle-aged, professionally-dressed woman leaned over and threw open her passenger-side door.

“Get in!” she yelled.

I frantically unbuckled my child from the jog stroller and hurdled into her car.

“Grab the stroller,” she said, watching to make sure the dog was still far enough away. I struggled to fit the stroller inside the car without damaging her spotless seats. “I don’t care if it ruins my seats,” she said. “Just shove it in.”

Once we were safely in the car with the door closed, I began to shake.

“Thank you,” I stammered, hardly able to speak.

She shook her head, her eyes wide. “I came over that hill, and saw you, and I said, ‘That’s a pit bull! And that’s a baby!’ And I just laid on my horn to try to scare the dog away.”

Both of us sat in her car and tried to process the miracle that had just happened.

“I don’t usually come this way,” she said. “I leave my job for lunch every day, and I go a different way. But today, something made me come this way.”

After she rescued us, I never saw the woman again. Yet the lesson God gave me through her remains with me always: Our help is in the name of the Lord (Psalm 124:8).

“Glorious name, gracious name, name of love and of power!” said Saint Bernadine of Siena, who is remembered for his great devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, a feast we celebrate on January 3. “Through you sins are forgiven, through you enemies are vanquished, through you the sick are freed from their illness, through you those suffering in trials are made strong and cheerful. You bring honor to those who believe, you teach those who preach, you give strength to the toiler, you sustain the weary.”

God has a plan to save his children, for now and for eternity. That plan begins and ends with the Name of Jesus. His Name gives us the grace to do something different today, to take a new route, to rise up over the hill and throw open our doors to help one another, not counting the cost. His Name is the miracle that descends when all human hope seems lost.

The Holy Name of Jesus is my refuge and my safety. In the face of a charging pit bull—and also in the face of all the other dangers I will meet in this life—if I call upon His name for help, He will answer. It might not be as loud and dramatic as a scream, a car horn, and a fleeing pit bull, but He will answer.

Our help is in the name of the Lord.

image: Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock.com

Maura Roan McKeegan

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Maura Roan McKeegan lives in Steubenville, Ohio, with her husband, Shaun, and their four children. She is the author of the children’s picture books Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2016), and The End of the Fiery Sword: Adam & Eve and Jesus & Mary (Emmaus Road Publishing, 2014), which are the first two books in a series introducing children to biblical typology. Her articles have appeared in publications such as Catholic Digest, Crisis, Guideposts, Franciscan Way, Lay Witness, and My Daily Visitor.

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