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January 1: The circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ  
 Saints Basil & Gregory

The Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

            The Old Testament law prescribed that every boy should be circumcised in the eighth day after his birth. In obedience to this law, Baby Jesus was circumcised, according to the Gospel of Luke 2:21: "When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." “Jesus” is the name given to Joseph by the Angel Gabriel in Mat. (1:21) “She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins”. “Jesus” also was the name given to Mary for her child to be, (cf. Lk 1:31) “Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end”.

Jesus had not to fulfill this mosaic rule, as Saint Thomas Aquinas explains, because He is the Lord of the law. However He wanted to obey the law to show us that He had become truly a man. He also wanted to show us that He too is circumcised, a descendent of Abraham. Third, He wanted to teach us to obey the law, like He did.

Our Savior was circumcised to give us a lesson in taking care of our salvation, so we learn how to circumcise our hearts in the spirit, as Saint Paul explains, detaching them from the desires of this world and its vanities. 

Also in this day is the memorial of Saints Basil and Gregory

Gregory had a pagan father and a Christian mother who took care to give him good education. Gregory was a brilliant student in the school of Athena, where he became a friend of Basil; as he later wrote: “we didn’t know but two paths, the path to the Church and the path to the school, and left for others to hang around bars and theaters”. Once he finished his studies, Gregory was baptized.

By nature, he loved solitude, and dwelt in it for a while with his friend Basil. At this time his father had been baptized a Christian, thanks to the prayers of his pious mother; he then became a priest, then a bishop on Nezianz. Then he called his son Gregory to help him. Gregory came to help his father, now a bishop, who ordained his son a priest asking him to help him in his eparchial responsibilities. Gregory was a great assistant to his bishop; however he preferred to turn back to the solitude, living an austere monastic life with his old friend Basil.

And when his dad was deceived by the Arian heresy, Gregory left his hermitage and came to rescue him, and brought him back to the true Catholic faith. After that, Gregory was elected the patriarch of Constantinople. There, with great zeal, he served the people entrusted to him by God, defending the Catholic faith, and converting many Arians. Upon this, several Arian bishops opposed him, and demanded his resignation. Gregory was not someone to confront people by nature, therefore he resigned from the Patriarchal Chair, spending his time in prayer and theological writings, which he knew the best. And because of his excellent theological writings defending the Catholic faith, he deserved the title “Theologos”, i.e. the theologian. Thus Gregory spent his last years as a hermit, busy with his theological writings, until he died in the year 379 A.D. His writings are a treasure for the Church, where he is honored as a great saint, and doctor.

May his prayers be with us. Amen.