Monday, January 1, 2018

The Circumcision of the Lord

JANUARY 1, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

When 8 days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus…
Our obsession with the new civil year usually deviates our attention from the liturgical significance of the 8th day of Christmas. What do we really celebrate on this 8th day? The Gospel tells us that on the 8th day, the Son of Mary was circumcised and was given the name Jesus.

What is circumcision? It is the cutting off of the foreskin of a boy’s reproductive organ. In the Jewish religion, this ritual is the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. An Israelite man bears in his body the permanent mark of his belonging not only to the chosen people but also of his belonging to God. And this mark of the covenant is found in the most intimate part of a man’s anatomy because his relationship with God is the most intimate of all human relations. The cutting off of the foreskin signified the purgation of sin. On account of the fragility of our human nature and our inclination to sin, “the circumcision on the 8th day prefigures the complete purgation of sin on the age of the resurrection.” (Gregory Dippipo)  

Born of a woman, born under the Law
Even though Jesus was like us in all things except in sin, nevertheless he subjected himself to the circumcision. He was born of a woman and born under the law so that he may redeem those who were enslaved by the law. His name means “God saves.” He is God who saves us by taking up our human nature and by subjecting himself to the law. In his human nature, God the Son received the permanent mark of belonging to the Father. He had no sin. He is the unblemished Paschal Lamb who “ransoms those under the law so that we may receive adoption as sons.” The blood he shed in this circumcision is the “first blood” – the first of the blood that shall be shed as a ransom for us from sin. His Blood buys us from the slavery of sin so that he may adopt us as children for God. “As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son and if a son, then also an heir, through God.”

This is the newness that he brings to us by his Incarnation. It is the newness of Divine Filiation. To those who accept him, he gave the power to be sons of God. We gave him a Mother. He gave us a Father. He assumed our humanity so that he may raise us into his Divinity. And this is depth of the new covenant in his Blood. He received the ancient mark of the circumcision so that you and I may receive the Holy Spirit’s indelible mark, the character, at Baptism. Now, we do not need to be bodily circumcised because we have received a spiritual circumcision when we were baptized. It was not only a foreskin that was cut off. The Holy Spirit abolished the misery of our fallen human nature by dwelling in us. We are no longer poor. We are rich heirs of God. This inheritance that we received is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us – the Spirit who enables us to call God: Abba!

We walk in this newness of creation. The New Year reminds us of this newness – our newness as sons and daughters of God. May we not hold on to our former slavery to sin. May we walk in the newness of the freedom of the children of God. He loved the Mother we gave him. May we love the Father he has given us.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!  

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