The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Jan 1

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

On January 1st, eight days after the Holy Nativity of our Lord, we celebrate His Circumcision, one of the Feasts of the Lord, which is in accordance with Hebrew tradition and Old Testament Law (Gen. 17:10-14, Lev. 12:3). All male infants underwent circumcision as a sign of God’s Covenant with the holy Forefather Abraham and his descendants. The true descendants of the Patriarch Abraham were separated from the other nations by the sign of circumcision (a prefigurement of Baptism: “the circumcision made without hands” [Col. 2: 11]) and thereby became members of the God-ruled community of the Old Testament; that is, through circumcision, they entered among the chosen People of God.Circumcision was a sacrament of the Old Law, and the first legal observance required of the descendants of Abraham by Almighty God. It was a sacrament of initiation in the service of God, and a promise, an engagement, to believe and act as He had revealed and directed. He was circumcised that He might redeem those who were under the law, by freeing them from the servitude of it, and that those who were formerly in the condition of servants might be set at liberty and receive the adoption of sons in Baptism, which, by Christ’s institution, succeeded to circumcision. (Gal. 4: 5 cf.)Our Lord Jesus Christ was circumcised and in this ritual the Divine Infant was given the name Jesus, as the Archangel Gabriel declared on the day of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos (Luke 1:31-33, 2:21). “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, His name was called Jesus, which was so named of the Angel before He was conceived in the womb” (Lk. 2: 21). So, in addition to circumcision, which the Lord accepted as a sign of God’s Covenant with mankind, He also received the Name Jesus (Savior/Salvation) on the eighth day after His Nativity as an indication of His service, His work of the salvation of the world (Mt. 1: 21; Mk. 9: 38-39, 16:17; Lk. 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; Phil 2:9-10).Christ was now “made under the law,” being conformed to the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4: 4) and “fulfilling” the Law (St. Matthew 3: 15), in order to elevate the Church of the Law into a Church of Grace, into a new “Israel of God” (Gal. 6: 16), — into His Body.

Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ

1) These two events, the Lord’s Circumcision and Naming, remind Christians that they have entered into a New Covenant with God and “are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” The very name “Christian” is a sign of mankind’s entrance into a New Covenant with God.

2) A worthy thing it would be were parents not to neglect this most blessed tradition of our most Holy Orthodox Church, so that newborn children might immediately be “sealed” in Christ through the blessing of a Priest.

3) And that parents should decide in a timely manner on the name to be given to the infant; our Lord’s name, “Jesus,” was “given” by an Angel even before Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the immaculate womb of the Theotokos (Annunciation: Lk. 1: 31).

4) A timely decision on a name means that an infant will have its own Saint to protect it from an early stage, and the parents will immediately call it by its Christian name, thereby avoiding the oddity of calling it “baby” until it is Baptized and illumined. The Orthodox have the good custom of giving a child the name of the Saint who is celebrated on the day of its birth.

5) The name “Jesus,” which our Lord received at His Circumcision, means “Savior”; that is, in Greek, the name of our Lord is ‘Savior’ (Matt. 1:21).”


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