On the 1st of January, Our Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates the CIRCUMCISION, according to the Flesh, of Our Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST1 HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

On the 1st of January, Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church Commemorates
the CIRCUMCISION of Our Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST. Also,
the Feast Day of Our Father Among the Saints BASIL THE GREAT, Archbishop
of Caesaria of Cappadocia.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Feast. First Tone

OUR human form hast Thou taken on Thyself without change, O Greatly-Compassionate
Master, though being God by nature; fulfilling the Law, Thou willingly receivest
circumcision in the flesh, that Thou mightiest end the shadow and roll away the veil of
our sinful passions. Glory be to Thy Goodness unto us. Glory be to Thy compassion.
Glory, O Logos/Word, to Thine inexpressible condescension.

Kontakion Hymn of the Feast. Third Tone

NOW the Lord of all that is doth undergo circumcision, in His goodness cutting off the sins
and failings of mortals. He this day doth give salvation unto the whole world; and the
hierarch and bright daystar of the Creator now rejoiceth in the Highest, Basil the wise and
divine initiate of Christ.

The CIRCUMCISION of Our Lord, God, and Savior JESUS CHRIST is commemorated on the 1st of January, which He condescended to receive in the flesh according to the Commandment of the Ancient Law, "Ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of a COVENANT between Me and you" (Genesis 17:11). Thus, we read in the Gospel according to Saint Luke: "And when EIGHT DAYS were fulfilled to circumcise the little Child, then His name WAS CALLED JESUS, which He was CALLED BY THE ANGEL before He was to be conceived in the womb" (Luke 2:21).

As a Hebrew mother, the Virgin mother fulfilled ALL THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW. The first of these was CIRCUMCISION OF HER Son, which represented VOLUNTARY SUBMISSION TO THE CONDITIONS OF THE Law, and acceptance of the obligations, but also the privileges, OF THE COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED. The Child was then given the name JESUS (JESHUA OR YEHOSHUA). Saint Kyril of Alexandria (+ 378-444 A.D.) adds, "On the eighth day, on which it was customary for the circumcision in the flesh to be performed, He received His name, even Jesus, which by interpretation signifies, THE SALVATION OF THE PEOPLE. For so had God the Father willed."

CIRCUMCISION PREFIGURED HOLY BAPTISM. Now that the Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism had come, the old procedure, circumcision, WAS SUPERFLUOUS. Saint Athanasios (+ 296-373 A.D.), Patriarch of Alexandria, comments upon this, saying, "Circumcision expressed nothing more than the despoiling of the old man; by this, that part of the body was circumcised which served as the instrument of corporeal generation. This was then done as a sign of the future Baptism in Christ. And so when that which was PREFIGURED HAD COME, THE PREFIGUREMENT BECAME VOID; FOR ALL THAT WAS THE OLD MAN IS TAKEN AWAY BY BAPTISM." "Through the Incarnation of the Son and Logos/Word of God, because in reality BAPTISM IS CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART."

"CIRCUMCISION WAS LINKED WITH GODLINESS, PIETY, AND ABIDING BY THE LAW, and it indicated the PURE ISRAELITE, while the unclean, impious man was indicated by the word for uncircumcised. So CIRCUMCISION and UNCIRCUMCISION are opposite concepts and practices, which point to the Jew and the Gentile, the pagan."

Saint Theophylact says "is characteristic, that this part which was cut back by Christ’s circumcision, Christ Himself kept unharmed and assumed anew with His Resurrection. Furthermore, what happened with Christ also allows the way in which it will happen in our own bodies. It is a teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church that the members of the human body which have been harmed in various ways will be RECONSTRUCTED TO THE BODY OR RESHAPED BY GOD, SO THAT THE WHOLE MAN, MADE UP OF SOUL AND BODY, WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD. To be sure, in this case, THE BODY WILL BE SPIRITUAL AND NOT CARNAL AS IT IS TODAY."

"CIRCUMCISION showed the content of KENOSIS, SELF-EMPYING. To be sure, the KENOSIS of the Son and Logos/Word of God consists mainly of the INCARNATION, in the fact that the UNCREATED GOD ASSUMED CREATED HUMAN NATURE. But this KENOSIS and the IMMENSE CONDENCESION OF GOD are also seen in His circumcision because He accepted this whole hard trial."

"The Holy Fathers of the Church, interpreting the Holy Scriptural passages about the real and SPIRITUAL CIRCUMCISION, which IS CHRISTIAN BAPTISM, present wonderful theological truths.

Saint Epiphanius teaches that the circumcision of the flesh PREPARED AND SERVED MAN UNTIL BAPTISM, which is the great circumcision because THROUGH IT WE ARE RELEASED FROM SINS AND ARE SEALED WITH THE NAME OF GOD. THE SEALING WITH THE NAME OF GOD IS A RECOGNITION THAT WE BELONG TO CHRIST.

Saint John Chrysostomos says that if the circumcision of the flesh set the Israelites apart from the Gentiles, this is much more the case with Holy Baptism since it is through this that BELIEVERS ARE DISTINGUISHED FROM UNBELIEVERS. Here it is seen that ALL WHO HAVE BEEN BAPTIZED AND ALL WHO HAVE REKINDLED THE GRACE OF BAPTISM ARE CALLED BELIEVERS.

According to the teaching of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the Old Testament circumcision DID NOT ABOLISH DEATH, which the New Testament circumcision DOES. In fact, the person who enters the Church through Baptism BECOMES A MEMBER OF THE RISEN Body of Christ. In this way, SPIRITUAL DEATH IS ABOLISHED AND THERE IS ASSURANCE OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. FOR IF BODILY DEATH REMAINS AFTER BAPTISM, IT IS FOR THE SAKE OF CUTTING OUT SIN.

Saint John of Damascus teaches that to be circumcised IS TO RENOUNCE BODILY PLEASURES AND UNNECESSARY AND USELESS DESIRES. Here we see that Baptism IS CONNECTED WITH THE ASCETIC LIFE, THROUGH WHICH A MAN IS FREED FROM DOMINATION BY THE PASSIONS. It is a matter of disciplining the desires of the soul.

In the teaching of Saint Maximos, we see that circumcision is the name for cutting off THE PASSIONATE RELATION OF THE SOUL TO THE BODY. The soul and body have a RELATIONSHIP and UNITY. It is not a question of that, however, BUT OF THE PASSIONATE RELATIONSHIP, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOUL AND BODY THROUGH THE PASSIONS.

In the Old Testament God gave His Law, so as to PREPARE THE PEOPLE FOR RECEIVING CHRIST. Saint John the Evangelist says in the prologue to his Gospel: "THE LAW WAS GIVEN THROUGH MOSES, BUT GRACE AND TRUTH CAME THROUGH JESUS CHRIST" (John 1:17). The Unincarnate Logos/Word gave the law to Moses in order to cure the people in readiness FOR RECEIVING THE TRUTH AND GRACE WHICH CAME INTO THE WORLD THROUGH THE LOGOS/WORD OF GOD MADE FLESH, THAT IS TO SAY, CHRIST. The Mosaic law, as well as circumcision, also had grace, BUT THIS WAS THE SO-CALLED PURIFYING ENERGY AND GRACE OF GOD, NOT HIS ILLUMINATING AND DEIFYING (THEOSIS) ENERGY.

Through Christ, WE GAIN SPIRITUAL BIRTH AND TRUE SONSHIP. Saint John the Evangelist emphasizes: "AS MANY AS RECEIVED HI, TO THEM HE GAVE THE RIGHT TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD, EVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN HIS NAME: WHO WERE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD" (John 1:12-13).

Through CIRCUMCISION men become good Israelites, God’s chosen people. THROUGH BAPTISM AND THE FAMILY LIFE IN CHRIST MEN BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD, THEY ATTAIN SONSHIP BY GRACE AND THEY CONQUER DEATH.

Therefore Christ’s CIRCUMCISION suggests TO US THE CIRCUMCISION OF THE HEART. Through the SACRAMENTAL AND ASCETIC LIFE WE BECOME MEMBERS OF THE Body of Christ. Christ’s CONDESCENSION BECOMES OUR ASCENT." (Source: The Feasts of the Lord. An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, HIEROTHEOS).

____________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +



With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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