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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

THE CIRCUMCISION (LUKE 2:16-21)

Christ became man to experience all our weaknesses and fulfill all the precepts of the Lord. . .including circumcision. "He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it." Thus, Christ had to be human and Jewish.

Circumcision was a ritual signifying the cutting off of all things displeasing to God.  It was a ritual of chastity whereby God delighted in man. In the New Testament, it was circumcision of the spirit,  i.e. the cutting off of our vices, ". . .that we may be holy and blameless in His sight."

Spiritual circumcision consisted of subduing the desires of the flesh, growing in the knowledge of God and multiplying our good works.

The first of January was a pagan celebration in honor of the pagan god,  Janus, a god with two faces; one looking at the past and one at the future. He was a pagan who was later deified and worshipped in a ritual where the pagans wore symbols of animals and birds and men wearing women's clothes. 

The rite of Janus was diabolical; it consisted in filling up tables with food at the eve of January first, believing this would bring material benefits. Then they would wait for midnight when the past separates from the future and the pagans would sing and shout, dance and eat to their pagan god. It is exactly the way we, Christians, celebrate New Year.

The early Church forbade such pagan celebrations. This may be a small matter. But, like yeast, a little paganism could paganize your whole life. So let us celebrate January first the way Christians did. 

The early saints, seeing how January first was celebrated with pagan rituals consisting in a mania for eating, drinking and dancing, ordered a public fast for all Christians to pay for the sins of those who participated in the pagan ritual. For the man who shows a kindly feeling towards the sinner who indulges in wanton amusements is a participant in his sin.

You whose eyes behold the Sacred Eucharist should not feast on the wickedness of foolish men. you should disdain and despise such works of paganism because it is from the devil.

Heed what the prophet says: "Turn away your eyes from seeing what is vain." You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and likewise the table of demons."

St. Caesarius of Arles: Sermo 192 

 

 

 

 

 

(07-03-03)

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