Thursday, July 07, 2005
The Circumcision--Part One of the Seven Bloodsheddings of Christ  

The month of July is set aside for special devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus. One of the devotions associated with the Precious Blood, is a meditation on the seven references in Scripture to the shedding of Christ's blood. Periodically throughout this month, I would like to provide short reflections on these seven passages.

The first of these bloodsheddings is the circumcision. In St. Luke's Gospel, this is recorded as
And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (2:21)
In this passage, we see that although Jesus was without sin, He chose to identify Himself with sinners.

Jesus is circumcised according to the covenant which God established with Israel through Abraham (Gen. 17:9-14). Every male was to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Circumcision identified the male child as a part of the people of the covenant and integrated the child into the family of Israel. Accordingly, as was prophesied, through His circumcision Jesus identified Himself as a true Israelite and a true son of Abraham.

Like St. John the Baptist (Lk. 1:63), Jesus is given His name at his circumcision. The name given a child in Biblical times was more than a way to simply identify the child. The name conveyed the essence of the child. Thus, it was very significant that Jesus name is conveyed to our Lady by the angel Gabriel even before He is conceived in her womb (1:31). In addition, we see the obedience of our Lady and St. Joseph who name Jesus according to the instructions which they had received from God through His angels.

Jesus' name means "the Lord saves". It is the Hebrew name Yeshua (Joshua). His name would convey His mission. The link to Joshua of the Old Testament hints at how Jesus will similarly lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He will begin the campaign to drive out the enemies of Israel who are occupying the land of milk and honey. The problem for His contemporaries (as well as for us) is to recognize who the true enemies of Israel are. It is not the Romans who are the occupying force in first century Palestine. It is the world, the flesh, and the devil who have come to reside, and who can only be removed by the power of Christ. As a result, Jesus' mission is to address the slavery to sin and not the Roman occupation because the former is much worse than the later.

In His circumcision, we get a glimpse of the full mission of Christ as the Savior. Through the Incarnation, our Lord identified Himself with sinners. As the sinless one, He would take on our sins in order to free us from the death that follows sin. In order to make satisfaction for our sins, Jesus came to be the perfect sacrifice whose blood would be shed on the cross. In His circumcision, for the first time, His blood is shed. The shedding of His Precious Blood in a ceremony which identifies Him with sinners is a foreshadowing of how He will shed His Precious Blood for sinners.

Finally, by submitting to the rite of circumcision, Jesus provides us an example of obedience. He was obedient to the Law although He was without sin. He voluntarily submitted Himself to rites and ceremonies such as circumcision to demonstrate how, we too, ought to obey the divine law which has been given to us by Jesus through His Church.

Circumcision of the Lord

Next Installment: The Agony in the Garden

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