Circumcision of the Lord

“The Lord of all endures circumcision, and He circumcises man’s sins, for He is good.” These words of the kontakion reveal the spiritual meaning of today’s feast of the Circumcision of the Lord.

Circumcision was instituted by God and administered, beginning with Abraham, to all of the chosen people of Israel. It was a sign of their covenant with God, a seal of promise to forever remain obedient and faithful to Him up until the shedding of blood. Circumcision was performed as prefiguration of the cutting off the passions of the flesh and the harshness of the heart that so often caused Israel to fall away from the true God.

So, today the Lord, as sinless as He is, endures circumcision to teach us how to be obedient to God’s will, as we require circumcision of our hearts and the cleansing of a multitude of our sins.

The feast of the Circumcision of the Lord coincides with the beginning of the old-style new year and the commemoration of the Holy Hierarch Basil the Great. These feasts are related for their deep inner meaning. Without spiritual circumcision, it is impossible to renew our inner man and we are reminded of that every time the new year arrives. It is the love of Christ that restores the old man and renews everything. The Holy Hierarch Basil the Great is the example of unwavering spiritual fortitude in dealing with the temptations of the world on this difficult path, as he is a strict and exalted teacher of morals, who never regarded exile, prison, deprivation, torture or death itself as a merit.

On the eve of the feast at the Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery, the All-Night Vigil was held in the Trinity Cathedral, followed by two Divine Liturgy services. The early-morning one was celebrated in the Trinity Cathedral and the late-morning service was held in the Transfiguration Cathedral followed by the Office of Panagia.

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