The Circumcision of our Lord and the Memory of St. Basil the Great

Today we celebrate another feast which represents God’s humbleness that brings salvation to the human race. Look at the Divine humbleness that the Creator of the Universe shows! The gentle God was not ashamed to clothe Himself in our fallen body! He was not ashamed of the circumcision of the flesh either, because as “the Creator of the law He fulfilled the law.” The Lord being humble took upon Himself a corruptive body. He humbled Himself, to the extent of being born as a feeble baby. He humbled Himself as to be born in a cave with animals and in a foreign land. He diminished Himself allowing an old man to carry Him in his hands, although He is the One Who is surrounded by hosts of angels in heavens. He humbled himself to the level of being wrapped in diapers, although He is the One Who sits on the Throne of fire and Whom even the Cherubs and the Seraphim must not see. He humbled himself, taking a carnal circumcision just like the sinners, although He is the One who came to destroy sin by immersing Himself in His most precious Blood. And He was circumcised on the eighth day of His birth, thus symbolising the day of eternity, the day of eternal joy in the next life.

The first six days are the days of creation, of work. The seventh day is a day of rest, the day of the Lord. The eighth day, on the other hand, is a symbol for the next life, a day of eternal celebration with Christ. The Lord Christ took circumcision, fulfilling the Old Testament, therefore inheriting the circumcision of the New Testament – the baptism, which is an inner (spiritual) circumcision, a covenant for man’s communion with God and an effort to preserve that communion. According to the teaching of the holy fathers, the circumcision, ie. the Baptism is the rejection of the carnal pleasures and vain desires of the body which separate us from God. This ascetic symbolism in the interpretation of circumcision reveals a great mystery. Just as the Old Testament faithful promised to serve God through circumcision, so do we in the New Testament with our vow to “renounce satan and all his works” through holy baptism and to “unite with Christ”. This means to unite with Him in a close, eternal union. In the Old Testament the flesh was circumcised as a seal of the covenant, and in the New Testament we are obliged to “strip our body from sin”, i.e. to renounce every sin that undermines our communion with God.

Many chose that path of asceticism, of service to others for Christ’s sake, and not only did they keep the covenant given to God, but were also considered His friends. The memory of one of them, who deserves to be called “the great teacher of the Universe”, is celebrated today. On this day the Church celebrates “the wise and faithful Saint Basil, who was a Bishop in the region of Cappadocia in the town of Caesarea, and who elevated the salvational dogmas all around the Universe. Indeed, Saint Basil is the foundation of the virtues, a book of praise, a life of miracles, a servant of the earthly people, a contemplator of heaven, a beautiful letter of sacred wisdom, written from above with divine letters” (St. Ephraim the Syrian). 

Bishop Parthenius, Elder and Abbot of the Bigorski Monastery

A night vigil and a Divine St. Basil’s Liturgy, officiated by our beloved Elder, Bishop Parthenius, together with the sisters from Rajchica and Prechista Monasteries, celebrated these two great feasts of our Lord and of St. Basil.

May this first day of the New Year be a day of great thanksgiving to our merciful God, who has given us another year in our own lives, a year which, like any other, is a good time for repentance. Let us thank the Triune God Who is gentle and merciful and let’s plead for His forgiveness, of all the shortcomings in our spiritual life, all our sins and disobediences through which we have grieved Him. The New Year has been given to us as another opportunity for sanctification and spiritual growth. Therefore let us strive not to grieve God with our sins or our negligence. Let us ask Christ to enlighten us with His grace, so that we may become better Christians, who are filled with His love and witnesses of His holiness. May we all be blessed in the forthcoming year of our Lord!

Bishop Parthenius, Elder and Abbot of the Bigorski Monastery