This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1 -- Feast of the Circumcision

It is the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, eight days after the Feast of the Incarnation (Christmas).  If you would prefer to have a saint for today, check out a couple of older posts here and here.

He took it pretty well, really. 
Some Christian writers make a big deal about Jesus having been circumcised; they contend that it was unnecessary (since he was God) but that he chose to begin sealing in blood the remission of sins that would be completed with the Crucifixion.  Saint Paul even takes some heroic leaps to reconcile the salvation of Christians who do not circumcise their menfolk.  In Romans 2:25-29, he wrote:
For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
I've got a hard time being persuaded about that.  I guess you must either accept or reject that the New Covenant replaces the old one.  If it doesn't, then you must take Genesis 17:10-14 at face value. In it,  God is pretty emphatic about male circumcision. 
This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. 
Looking a little more stoic about the whole thing

In Luke 2:21-24, the decision to circumcise the infant Jesus is presented very directly, as if there had been no question. 
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.  When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 
 In 1Corinthians 7:18, Paul promulgated a new, dual-track rule regarding circumcision.
Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 
 It might not really spiritually address the central question about the Law and the New Covenant, but it was a pretty good compromise.  We can't know if it actually held the Church together or if some earlier schism would have developed, since the Roman destruction of Jerusalem scattered the most Judaic of the Christian communities.  But Christians seemed pretty schismatic from the first century to this one, and obedience to the Law seemed to provide a lot to fight over.  Granted, most got over the question of bacon cheeseburgers pretty fast, settling on the side of deliciousness and heart disease, but whittling down John Thomas was apparently a thorny question for the Church, if not for Joseph and Mary.  In the end, I'm with Jeremiah when he says in 4:4:
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts,  O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it because of the evil of your deeds.

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