The Circumcision of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ
On the eighth day following His birth, the Divine Child was presented in the Temple and circumcised according to the Law existing in Israel since the time of Abraham. On this occasion He was given the name Jesus, which the Archangel Gabriel had announced to the Most-holy Virgin Mary. The Old Testament circumcision was the prefiguring of the New Testament baptism. The circumcision of our Lord shows that He truly received upon Himself the body of man and not just seemingly, as was later taught of Him by heretics. Our Lord was also circumcised because He wanted to fulfill the entire Law, which He Himself gave through the prophets and forefathers. In fulfilling the written Law, He replaced it with baptism in His Holy Church, as was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (Galatians 6:15).
The Feast of Saint the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia
Basil was born during the reign of Emperor Constantine. While still unbaptized, he spent fifteen years in Athens, where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and all the other secular sciences of that time. His colleagues there were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. In his mature years he was baptized in the Jordan River along with Ebulios, his former teacher. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for almost ten years and completed his earthly life fifty years after his birth. He was a great defender of Orthodoxy, a great light of moral purity, a religious zealot, a great theological mind, and a great builder and pillar of the Church of God. Basil fully deserved the title “Great.” In liturgical services he is referred to as the “bee of the Church of Christ, which brings honey to the faithful and with its stinger pricks the heretics.” Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved; they include theological, apologetical, ascetical and canonical writings, as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy named after him. This Divine Liturgy is celebrated ten times during the year: on the first of January, his feast day; on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord; on the eve of the Theophany of our Lord; on all Sundays of Great Lent except Palm Sunday; on Great and Holy Thursday; and on Great and Holy Saturday. St. Basil reposed peacefully on January 1, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Thou Who gavest the Law to the world and to man,
Thou, the Lawgiver, didst place Thyself under the Law.
Others didst Thou enjoin by imposition—Thyself, voluntarily.
That is why, on the eighth day, Thou wast circumcised in the flesh.
In fulfilling the Law, Thou didst replace it with a new one:
Circumcision of the flesh was replaced with a spiritual one,
That we cut off from ourselves impure passions
And gaze upon Thee with a pure spirit;
That, with the spirit, we cut off and constrict the will of the body
And by the spirit fulfill Thy will, O Savior.
The saints taught this spiritual circumcision
And left to us their fiery example.
Wonderful Basil, like a ray of light,
Teaches such circumcision to all generations.
To Basil, Thy great servant, be glory.
He was great because he humbled and denied himself before Thee:
That is why he became great, and remains “the Great.”