The Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (379). Sunday before Theophany. Martyr Basil of Ancyra (ca. 362).
The Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
On the eighth day after His Nativity, our Lord Jesus Christ was circumcised in accordance with the Old Testament Law. All male infants underwent circumcision as a sign of God’s Covenant with the holy Forefather Abraham and his descendants [Genesis 17:10-14, Leviticus 12:3].
After 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]. The Fathers of the Church explain that the Lord, the Creator of the Law, underwent circumcision in order to give people an example of how faithfully the divine ordinances ought to be fulfilled. The Lord was circumcised so that later no one would doubt that He had truly assumed human flesh, and that His Incarnation was not merely an illusion, as certain heretics had taught.
In the New Testament, the ritual of circumcision gave way to the Mystery of Baptism, which it prefigured [Colossians 2:11-12]. Accounts of the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord continue in the Eastern Church right up through the fourth century. The Canon of the Feast was written by Saint Stephen of the Saint Sava Monastery.
In addition to circumcision, which the Lord accepted as a sign of God’s Covenant with mankind, He also received the Name Jesus [Savior] on the eighth day after His Nativity as an indication of His service, the work of the salvation of the world [Matthew 1:21; Mark 9:38-39, 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; Philippians 2:9-10]. 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” [Colossians 2:11]. The very name “Christian” is a sign of mankind’s entrance into a New Covenant with God.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the saint, tone 1
Your proclamation has gone out into all the earth Which was divinely taught by hearing your voice Expounding the nature of creatures, Ennobling the manners of men. O holy father of a royal priesthood, Entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Troparion of the feast, tone 1
Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your divine Spirit, O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, your Mother. Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day old Child. Glory to Your most gracious counsel; glory to Your dispensation; glory to Your condescension, O only Lover of mankind.
Kontakion of the feast, tone 3
The Lord of all accepts to be circumcised, thus, as He is good, excises the sins of mortal men. Today He grants the world salvation, while light-bearing Basil, high priest of our Creator, rejoices in heaven as a divine initiate of Christ.
Kontakion of the saint, tone 4
You were revealed as the sure foundation of the Church, granting all mankind a lordship which cannot be taken away, sealing it with your precepts, venerable Basil, revealer of heaven.
Colossians 2:8-12 (Epistle, Circumcision)
- Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
- For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
- and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
- In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
- buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Luke 2:20-21,40-52 (Gospel, Circumcision)
- Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
- And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
- And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
- His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
- And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
- When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it;
- but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances.
- So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
- Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
- And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
- So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
- And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
- But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
- Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.
- And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.