"It is a grave offense not to work for the extermination of heresy when this monstrous infection requires action"
(Council of Vienne)

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Circumcision of Our Lord


At that time: When eight days were fulfilled for His circumcision, His Name was called Jesus, the Name given Him by the Angel before He was conceived in the womb. Luke 2: 21

                             


BEDE; Having related our Lord’s nativity, the Evangelist adds, And after that eight days were accomplished for the circumcision of the child. 


AMBROSE; Who is this Child, but He of whom it was said, Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given? For He was made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law. 


EPIPHAN. Now the followers of Ebion and Cerinthus say, “It is enough for a disciple if he be as his Master. But Christ circumcised Himself. Be you therefore circumcised.” But herein do they deceive themselves, destroying their own principles; for if Ebion should confess that Christ as God descended from heaven and was circumcised on the eighth day, it might then afford the ground of an argument for circumcision; but since he affirms Him to be mere man, surely as a boy he cannot be the cause of Himself being circumcised, as neither are infants the authors of their own circumcision. But we confess that it is God Himself who has descended from heaven, and that enclosed in a virgin’s womb, He abode there the whole time necessary for her delivery, until He should perfectly form to Himself of the virgin’s womb a human body; and that in this body He was not in appearance but truly circumcised on the eighth day, in order that the figures having come to this spiritual fulfillment, both by Himself and His disciples, might now be spread abroad no longer the figures but the reality.

 ORIGEN; As we have died with Him at His death, and risen together with Him at His resurrection, so with Him have we been circumcised, and therefore need not now circumcision in the flesh. 


EPIPHAN. Christ was circumcised for several reasons. First indeed to show the reality of His flesh, in opposition to Manichaus and those who say that He came forth in appearance only. Secondly, that He might prove that His body was not of the same substance with the Deity, according to Apollinaris, and that it descended not from heaven, as Valentinian said. Thirdly, to add a confirmation to circumcision which He had of old instituted to wait His coming. Lastly, to leave no excuse to the Jews. For had He not been circumcised, they might have objected that they could not receive Christ uncircumcised. 

BEDE; He was circumcised also that He might enjoin upon us by His example the virtue of obedience and might take compassion on them who being placed under the law, were unable to bear the burdens of the law, to the end that He who came in the likeness of sinful flesh might not reject the remedy with which sinful flesh was wont to be healed. For circumcision brought in the law the same assistance of a saving cure to the wound of original sin which Baptism does in the time of the grace of revelation, except that as yet the circumcised could not enter the gates of the heavenly kingdom, but comforted after death with a blessed rest in Abraham’s bosom, they waited with a joyful hope for their entrance into eternal peace.

ATHAN. For circumcision expressed nothing else, but the stripping off of the old birth, seeing that part was circumcised which caused the birth of the body. And thus it was done at that time as a sign of the future baptism through Christ. Therefore as soon as that of which it was a sign came, the figure ceased. For since the whole of the old man Adam is taken away by baptism, there remains nothing which the cutting of a part prefigures. 

CYRIL; It was the custom on the eighth day to perform the circumcision of the flesh. For on the eighth day Christ rose from the dead, and conveyed to us a spiritual circumcision, saying, Go and teach all nations, baptizing them. 

BEDE; Now in His resurrection was prefigured the resurrection of each of us both in the flesh and the Spirit, for Christ has taught us by being circumcised that our nature must both now in itself be purged from the stain of vice, and at the last day be restored from the plague of death. And as the Lord rose on the eighth day, i.e. the day after the seventh, (which is the Sabbath,) so we also after six ages of the world and after the seventh, which is the rest of souls, and is now carrying on in another life, shall rise as on the eighth day. 


CYRIL; But according to the command of the law, on the same day He received the imposition of a name, as it follows, His name was called Jesus which is interpreted Savior. For He was brought forth for the salvation of the whole world, which by His circumcision He prefigured, as the Apostle says to the Colossians, “you are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the stripping off of the body of the flesh, to wit, the circumcision of Christ.” 

BEDE; That upon the day of His circumcision He also received the imposition of the name was likewise done in imitation of the old observances. For Abraham, who received the first sacrament of circumcision, was on the day of his circumcision thought worthy to be blessed by the increase of his name.

ORIGEN; But the name of Jesus, a glorious name and worthy of all honor, a name which is above every other, ought not first to be uttered by men, nor by them be brought into the world. Therefore significantly the Evangelist adds, which was called of the Angel, &c

BEDE; Of this name the elect also in their spiritual circumcision rejoice to be partakers, that as from Christ they are called Christians, so also from the Savior they may be called saved, which title was given them of God not only before they were conceived through faith in the womb of the Church, but even before the world began. 


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Chrysostomus. The rite of circumcision was first delivered to Abraham as a sign of distinction, that the race of the Patriarch might be preserved in unmixed purity, and so might be able to obtain the promises. But now that the promise of the covenant is fulfilled, the sign attached to it is removed. So then through Christ circumcision ceased, and baptism came in its place; but first it was right that John should be circumcised; as it is said, And it came to pass, that on the eighth day, &c. For the Lord had said, Let the child of eight days be circumcised among you. But this measurement of time I conceive was ordered by Divine mercy for two reasons. First, because in its most tender years the child the more easily bears the cutting of the flesh. Secondly, that from the very operation itself we might be reminded that it was done for a sign; for the young child scarcely distinguishes any of the things that are around him. But after the circumcision, the name was conferred, as it follows, And they called him. But this was done because we must first receive the seal of the Lord, then the name of man. Or, because no man except he first cast aside his fleshly lusts, which circumcision signifies, is worthy to have his name written in the book of life.  

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