Sunday, January 1, 2006
Feast of the Circumcision

Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): January 1

Today is the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Holy Day of Obligation in most countries. Today is also the Octave Day of Christmas.

On the Octave Day of Christmas each year (January 1st), we recall that Our Lord and Our Lady both perfectly observed the Law of Moses. On this day, the author of the Law subjected Himself to the Law and shed the first drops of His Precious Blood for our salvation.  In Old Testament Law, a child wasn't a son of Abraham or a true part of the family until his circumcision at 8 days of age.

Jesus respected the sacredness of the Old Law and submitted to its ceremony of circumcision. The rite officially incorporated Him into the Jewish religion and was a figure of Christian Baptism. The Savior came to complete the Old Law and to incorporate people of all nations into His Mystical Body through Baptism. From Him, the Head, they receive all the graces needed to live worthily as His members. We become "acceptable" to God in the measure that we are cleansed from sin, give God His due worship and obedience, and render our fellow men everywhere on earth both full justice and Christ-like charity.

From The Church's Year:

What was the Circumcision?

It was an external sign of the Old Law, by which the people of that day were numbered among the chosen people of God, as now they become, by baptism, members of the Church of Christ.

What is the signification of Circumcision in the moral or spiritual sense?

It signifies the mortification of the senses, of evil desires, and inclinations. This must be practiced by Christians now, since they have promised it in baptism which would be useless to them without the practice of mortification; just as little as the Jew by exterior Circumcision is a true Jew, just so little is the baptized a true Christian without a virtuous life. Beg of Christ, therefore, today, to give you the grace of the true Circumcision of heart.

Why did Jesus submit to Circumcision?

That He might show His great love for us, which caused Him even at the very beginning of His life, to shed His blood to cleanse us thereby from all our sins. Furthermore to teach us obedience to the commandments of God and His Church, since He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Jewish law, although He was not in the least bound by it, which ordered that every male child should be circumcised on the eighth day after its birth (Lev. 12:3).

Why was He named Jesus?

Because Jesus means Redeemer and Savior, and He had come to redeem and save the world (Mt. 1:21). This is the holiest, most venerable, and most powerful name by which we can be saved.

What power has this name?

The greatest power, for it repels all attacks of the evil Spirit, as Jesus Himself says (Mk. 16:17). And so great is the efficacy of this most holy name that even those who are not righteous, can by it expel devils (Mt. 7:22). It has power to cure physical pains and evils, as when used by the apostles (Acts. 3:3-7), and Christ promised that the faithful by using it could do the same (Mk. 16:17). St. Bernard calls the name of Jesus a "Medicine"; and St. Chrysostom says, "This name cures all ills; it gives succor in all the ailments of the soul, in temptations, in faintheartedness, in sorrow, and in all evil desires, etc." "Let him who cannot excite contrition in his heart for the sins he has committed, think of the loving, meek, and suffering Jesus, invoke His holy name with fervor and confidence, and he will feel his heart touched and made better," says St. Lawrence Justinian. It overcomes and dispels the temptations of the enemy: "When we fight against Satan in the name of Jesus," says the martyr St. Justin, "Jesus fights for us, in us, and with us, and the enemies must flee as soon as they hear the name of Jesus." It secures us help and blessings in all corporal and spiritual necessities, because nothing is impossible to him who asks in the name of Jesus, whatever tends to his salvation will be given him (Jn. 14:13). Therefore it is useful above all things, to invoke this holy name in all dangers of body and soul, in doubts, in temptations, especially in temptations against holy chastity, and still more so when one has fallen into sin, from which he desires to be delivered; for this name is like oil (Cant. 1:2) which cures, nourishes, and illumines.

The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord as explained by Dom Prosper Gueranger:

Our newborn King and Savior is eight days old today; and therefore the Son of Man must be circumcised on this day. This first sacrifice of His innocent Flesh must honor the eighth day of His mortal life.

The Child subjects Himself to this painful ceremony, to this symbol of one devoted to the divine service, in order that He may fulfill all justice.

Being now circumcised, He is not only a member of the human race; He is made today a member of God's chosen People. He receives, at the same time, His holy Name. The Name is Jesus, and it means a Savior. A Savior! Then, He is to save us? Yes; and He is to save us by His Blood. Such is the divine appointment, and He has bowed down His will to it. The Incarnate Word is upon the earth in order to offer a Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice is begun today.

This first shedding of the Blood of the Man-God was sufficient to the fullness and perfection of a Sacrifice; but He is come to win the heart of the sinner, and that heart is so hard that all the streams of that Precious Blood, which flow from the Cross on Calvary, will scarcely make it yield. The drops that were shed today would have been enough to satisfy the justice of the Eternal Father, but not to cure man's miseries, and the Babe's Heart would not be satisfied to leave us uncured. He came for man's sake, and His love for man will go to what looks like excess - He will carry out the whole meaning of His dear Name - He will be our "Jesus," our Savior.

But Our Lord's Circumcision and receiving of His holy Name are not the only mysteries to which this day's feast is devoted. Holy Church is mindful also today, on this great Solemnity, of the Blessed Virgin Mary's august prerogative as the Mother of God. Though a mere creature, Her divine Maternity made Her the cooperatrix with Jesus in the great work of man's salvation.

Thus today, also, we pour forth all the love of our hearts for the Virgin Mother and rejoice with Her in the exceeding happiness She feels at having given birth to Her and our Lord. During Advent, we contemplated Her as pregnant with the world's salvation; we proclaimed the glory of that Ark of the New Covenant, whose chaste womb was the earthly paradise, chosen by the King of Ages for His dwelling place. Now that She has brought Him forth, the Infant God, She adores Him, Who is Her Son. She has the right to call Him Her Child; and He, God as He is, calls Her in strictest truth His Mother.

Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the enthusiasm and profound respect wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin and Her prerogatives. Let us, on the contrary, be convinced that all the praise the Church can give Her, and all the devotion she can ever bear towards Her, are far below what is due to Her as Mother of the Incarnate God.

No mortal will ever be able to describe or even comprehend how great a glory accrues to Her from this sublime dignity. For as the glory of Mary comes from Her being the Mother of God, one would have first to comprehend God Himself in order to measure the greatness of Her dignity. It is to God that Mary gave our human nature; it is God Whom She had as Her Child; it is God Who, inasmuch as He is Man, gloried in rendering Himself subject to Her: hence, the true value of such a dignity, possessed by a mere creature, can only be appreciated in proportion to our knowledge of the sovereign perfections of the great God Who thus deigns to make Himself dependent upon that favored creature. Let us therefore bow down in deepest adoration before the Majesty of our God; let us therefore acknowledge that we cannot respect, as it deserves, the extraordinary dignity of Her whom he chose for His Mother.

The same sublime Mystery overpowers the mind from another point of view - what were the feelings of such a Mother towards such a Son? The Child She holds in Her arms and presses to Her Heart is the Fruit of Her virginal womb, and She loves Him as Her own; She loves Him because She is His Mother, and a mother loves her child as herself, nay, more than herself: but when She thinks upon the infinite majesty of Him Who has thus given Himself to Her to be the object of Her love and Her fond caresses - She trembles in Her humility, and Her soul has to turn, in order to bear up against the overwhelming truth, to the thought of the nine months She held this Babe in Her womb, and of the filial smile He gave Her when Her eyes first met His.

These two deep-rooted feelings - of a creature that adores, and of a Mother that loves - are in Mary's Heart. The being Mother of God implies all this - and may we not well say that no pure creature could be exalted more than She? and that only God's infinite wisdom could plan such a work, and only His infinite power accomplish it?

A Mother of God! It is the mystery whose fulfillment the world, without knowing it, was awaiting for four thousand years. It is the work which, in God's eyes, was incomparably greater than that of the creation of a million new worlds, for such a creation would cost Him nothing; He has but to speak, and all whatsoever He wills is made. But that a creature should become Mother of God, He has had not only to suspend the laws of nature by making a Virgin Mother, but also to put Himself in a state of dependence upon the happy creature whom He chose for His Mother. He had to give Her rights over Himself, and contract the obligation of certain duties towards Her. He had to make Her His Mother, and Himself Her Son.

It follows from this that the blessings of the Incarnation for which we are indebted to the love wherewith the Divine Word loved us, may and ought to be referred, though in an inferior degree, to Mary Herself. If She be the Mother of God, it is because She consented to it, for God vouchsafed not only to ask Her consent, but, moreover, to make the coming of His Son into this world depend upon Her giving it. As this His Son, the Eternal Word, spoke His Fiat over chaos, and the answer to His word was creation; so did Mary use the same word Fiat: - let it be done unto me, She said. God heard Her word and, immediately, the Son of God descended into Her virginal womb. After God, then, it is to Mary, His ever Blessed Mother, that we are indebted for our Emmanuel.

The divine plan for the world's salvation included there being a Mother of God: and as heresy sought to deny the mystery of the Incarnation, it equally sought to deny the glorious prerogative of Mary. Nestorius asserted that Jesus was only man; Mary, consequently, he impiously raved, was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man called Jesus. This blasphemous doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world, and the East and West united in proclaiming that Jesus was God and Man, in unity of Person; and that Mary, being His Mother, was, in strict truth, "Mother of God."

This victory over Nestorianism, won at the Council of Ephesus, was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith, which proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus.


O God, Who by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may experience her intercession for us, though whom we have been made worthy to receive the Author of Life, Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

1 comment(s):

del_button April 3, 2011 at 8:27 PM
Jobadiah said...


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