Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fr Wells's Bulletin Inserts


Today is the eighth day of Christmas, on which the Church commemorates a special event, the circumcision of the Infant Son of Mary. This was a special time in the life of an Israelite family. In this ceremony a male child, in his earliest infancy, was enrolled as a member of the chosen people of God. This was a sacrament of the Old Testament, instituted by God in the time of Abraham, the first ancestor of the Hebrew people. In Genesis 17, we learn: "He that is eight days old among you shall be circumcised; every male among you ... both he that is born in your house, and he that is bought with your money, shall be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant." Circumcision inflicted an immutable mark, a sign of God's unbreakable covenant, His indestructible relationship with His elect people.

The point for us is that Jesus Christ experienced this Old Testament sacrament. In just a few days we will celebrate the beautiful feast of the Epiphany, the Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, when we rejoice that He came to be the Saviour of all ethnicities, Jew and Gentile alike. But today we remember that He was throughout His earthly career a devout and observant Jew, who kept every jot and title of the ceremonial regulations of the Law of Moses. (His disdain for non-Biblical tradition is another matter.)

His Incarnation, we must remember, from the moment Gabriel came to His mother until His corpse was enclosed in the tomb, was one relentless act of humiliation and self-denial. As the Eternal Son of God, the One who could say, "Before Abraham was, I AM," He submitted, even as a tiny infant, to regulations and ceremonies given to His human ancestor. That same submission continued until the Thursday evening thirty-three years later, when He said to His disciples, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer" (Luke 22:15).

This Old Testament sacrament of Circumcision took place on the eighth day of an Infant's life. That number eight is not without significance. Remember the creation-story in Genesis 1, told within the literary framework of seven days. The "eighth day" signifies the beginning of a new week, one which reaches beyond and surpasses creation itself. The eighth day is the beginning of a New Creation. Since the original creation is hopelessly spoiled and ruined by sin, nothing less than a New Creation is necessary. That New Creation began at the very moment Gabriel made an announcement to Mary, and in the Birth of her Son Jesus, it is now underway. While this New Creation is not yet finished, we devoutly hope to be a part of it. LKW

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