January 1, 2018

The Circumcision of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ; Our Father Among the Saints Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (379)
Rank: of our Lord / All-Night Vigil. The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is celebrated today. Day when the faithful are highly encouraged to participate in the Divine Liturgy.

Colossians 2:8-12; Hebrews 7:26-8:2
Luke 2:20-21, 40-52; Luke 6:17-23

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Christians are often bewildered by the Old Testament, and especially by the Law of Moses. What is the meaning of the rituals for temple sacrifice, the rules about cleanliness, and the other commandments? While the answer to this question is not always clear as far as specific passages are concerned, in general Christians should always read the Old Testament with Christ in mind; and today’s gospel from Matthew confirms this approach.

Later in Matthew, Jesus will say that he came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. This means that the scriptures, and in particular the Law of Moses (or Torah) which the Jews were (and still are) so zealous in following, was actually pointing to Jesus in a hidden way. Thus, when Jesus was presented as an eight-day old boy for circumcision, he was simply submitting to the commandment for male children to be circumcised, as a sign of their covenant with God: in this sense, Jesus fulfills the law simply by being obedient to it. But in another sense, Jesus fulfills the Law by opening up its hidden, deeper, meaning, both in his teaching and in what he did. That’s why Jesus was able to explain the meaning of the Law to the elders in the Temple when he was only twelve years old: we don’t know what he said in this conversation, but we do know that they were amazed by his interpretations. It’s possible that Jesus was hinting to them how the Messiah would shed his blood and rise on the eighth day, in order to establish the new and eternal covenant with the Father, a mystery prefigured in his own circumcision on the eighth day.

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