January 1–Circumcision and Name of Jesus

Today may be New Year’s Day, but for the church, it’s also a principal feast of Christ: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus. This feast naturally falls on the eighth day after the birth of Christ, as that was the day that God had commanded the Jews to circumcise their sons, as per the covenant He made way back in the Old Testament with Abraham (Genesis 17). Joseph and Mary, therefore, took the infant Jesus to the Temple according to the Law, to have Him circumcised, and gave Him the name the angel had instructed them to (Luke 2:21).

From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Already on the eighth day of Jesus’ life, His destiny of atonement is revealed in His name and His circumcision. At that moment, His blood is first shed and Jesus receives the name given to Him by the angel: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). In the circumcision of Jesus, all people are circumcised once and for all, because He represents all humanity. In the Old Testament, for the believers who looked to God’s promise to be fulfilled in the Messiah, the benefits of circumcision included the forgiveness of sins, justification, and incorporation into the people of God. In the New Testament, St. Paul speaks of its counterpart, Holy Baptism, as a “circumcision made without hands” and as “the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11).

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