The CAPG's Blog
In His Circumcision Jesus Christ Exhibits three testimonies of His Priesthood
*' That the Child should be circumcised. "St. Luke it 21.
I. As a Master Of Truth.
II. As the Expiator of our Sins.
III. As the Sanctifier of Souls.
1. Jesus Christ was born, and appeared in the world, as He said of Himself, to "give testimony to the truth" (St. John xviii. 37); and in causing Himself to be circumcised, He began to give this testimony in the clearest manner, by manifesting Himself as the Supreme Truth. He showed that He had true human flesh, in order to confound the heretics of future ages, particularly the Manichean, who attributed to Him a spectral body; the Apollinarians, who imagined His Body to be con-substantial with His Divinity; and the Valentinians, who believed it to be a body brought down from heaven. Moreover, it certified Him to be a true son of Abraham, who received the precept of circumcision as a sign of his faith in the future Messiah. Thus, as St. Thomas says, did He confirm the promises made to the Holy Fathers. Finally He declared another most important truth, to wit, that we must observe the law, for this is the one way of salvation; therefore, as Venerable Bede observes, He would be circumcised precisely on the eighth day, as the law prescribed. In this manner did it become our High Priest to appear as a Master of truth, and it becomes us, His Ministers, to be likewise masters of truth. For this end He has given us in our ordination the Paraclete, who is "the Spirit of Truth," and who " teaches all truth" (St. John xvi. 13). Let us then guard against lying, for lies in a priest's mouth would be shameful. How well did the Apostle fulfill his ministry, from whose lips issued the words: "I say the truth, I lie not" (1 Tim. ii. 7). Moreover, let us teach the truth to the faithful, for it will deliver them from all evil: "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (St. John viii. 32). Let us endeavor to make them walk in the way of truth, that is, in the way of justice, for with St. John, we can "have no greater grace than this," to hear that our " children walk in truth" (3 St. John v. 4), and so shall we and they behold and enjoy the Eternal Truth in Heaven.
2. Jesus Christ was to save His people by the remission of their sins: "For He shall save His people from their sins" (St. Matt. i. 21); but there could never have been such remission without shedding of blood: "without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. ix. 22). Therefore in His Circumcision Jesus Christ shed His first blood, which was as it were the prelude and earnest of the rest, which was shed even to the last drop in His Passion. A holy writer calls it "the Prelude of His future Passion and Death," and St. Bernard says He showed therein His great haste to take our sorrows; He showed Himself ready to shed His Blood for us. This first blood-shedding was exceedingly painful, humiliating, and grievous to Him. It was exceedingly painful, because, unlike other children, He had the full use of reason, and He did not distract Himself from feeling the pain, but, on the contrary, engrossed Himself with it, in order to suffer all its bitterness. Moreover, as St . Thomas says, His Body, being the perfect work of the Holy Ghost, was especially sensitive and delicate. Then, again, it was exceedingly humiliating because, as St. Thomas again says, circumcision was the remedy for original sin, and therefore it was a mark of shame, indicating the appearance of sinful flesh in the Holy of Holies. Finally, it was most grievous to Him, because it bound Him to the observance of the whole Law of Moses, which was a heavy yoke: "I testify again to every man circumcising himself, that he is a debtor to do the whole law" (Gal. v. 3). He observed this Law exactly, and bore its yoke even to His Last Supper, in order to relieve His followers from it: "made under the law, that He might redeem them who were under the law" (Gal. iv. 5). Thus has He taught His Ministers to shrink from no sufferings, humiliations, or burdens whatsoever when the welfare, of the Church is in question. Many, on this account, have offered themselves to God as victims for the people, and "in the time of wrath have made themselves means of reconciliation" (Eccles. xliv. 17). They have been severe to themselves, but to their people full of that charity which is "patient, is kind," which "beareth all things . . . endureth all things" (1 Cor. xiii. 4, 7). Are we ^like these? Do we desire to imitate Jesus Christ? Let us love the little Child of Bethlehem circumcised for us, and so shall we feel ourselves moved to imitate Him.
3. The Holy Child was circumcised in order to operate in us a spiritual circumcision; that is, as St . Thomas says, He took upon Himself the figure in order to accomplish the reality in us. Further, Origen observes, that Christ being our Head, even as we died in His Death, and rose again in His Resurrection, so were we spiritually circumcised when the flesh of our Head was circumcised. Therefore the Apostle tells us: "In Him you are circumcised, with circumcision not made with hand in despoiling of the body of the flesh," but, by the mystery of the Circumcision operating spiritually in you, "in the Circumcision of Christ" (Col. ii. 11). A sign in the flesh was given to the Jews, who were a carnal people, but they often remained " uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts vii. 51). Christians, on the contrary, ought to experience a circumcision in the heart, in the putting off of the old generation, of the old man and his deeds, that is to say, of all that belongs to our sinful origin; and in this putting off, as St. Thomas says, sanctity consists. Let us then meditate how Jesus Christ by that painful wound, by the Blood which He then shed, wrought the salvation of souls. Let us carefully examine our hearts that we may see whether they are circumcised, or whether passions are still alive in them impelling us to evil. Let us remember that the priests of Christ are the ministers of spiritual circumcision, as the priests of the line of Aaron were the ministers of carnal circumcision. Christ was circumcised by one of them, or by some Levite in the stable. Let us therefore endeavor to minister it to others, not only by word but by example, and let us pray to our Divine Lord, that, by the virtue of this His Most Precious Blood He would despoil us of the desires of the flesh, and make us live according to the Spirit.
"Turn away my reproach which I have apprehended, for Thy judgments are delightful."—Ps. cxviii. 39.
"Thou hast redeemed us to God in Thy Blood."—Apoc. v. 9.
Source: Meditations for the use of the clergy, for every day in the year ..., Volume 1 By Angelo Agostino Scotti (abp. of Thessalonica.)