Circumcision of Jesus| Mary the Mother of God| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in both Calendars we also celebrate the Circumcision of Our Lord. A story about this Feast Day can be found by Clicking Here.
On the eighth day after His Nativity, our Lord Jesus Christ was circumcised in accordance with the Old Testament Law. All male infants underwent circumcision as a sign of God’s Covenant with the holy Forefather Abraham and his descendants [Genesis 17:10-14, Leviticus 12:3].
After this ritual, the Divine Infant was given the name Jesus, as the Archangel Gabriel declared on the day of the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos [Luke 1:31-33, 2:21]. The Fathers of the Church explain that the Lord, the Creator of the Law,
underwent circumcision in order to give people an example of how faithfully the divine ordinances ought to be fulfilled. The Lord was circumcised so that later no one would doubt that He had truly assumed human flesh, and that His Incarnation was not merely an illusion, as certain heretics had taught.
In the New Testament, the ritual of circumcision gave way to the Mystery of Baptism, which it prefigured [Colossians 2:11-12]. Accounts of the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord continue in the Eastern Church right up through the fourth century. The Canon of the Feast was written by Saint Stephen of the Saint Sava Monastery.
In addition to circumcision, which the Lord accepted as a sign of God’s Covenant with mankind, He also received the Name Jesus [Savior] on the eighth day after His Nativity as an indication of His service, the work of the salvation of the world [Matthew 1:21; Mark 9:38-39, 16:17; Luke 10:17; Acts 3:6, 16; Philippians 2:9-10]. These two events -- the Lord’s Circumcision and Naming -- remind Christians that they have entered into a New Covenant with God and “are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” [Colossians 2:11]. The very name “Christian” is a sign of mankind’s entrance into a New Covenant with God.
THE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD
Today is the feast of The Circumcision of Our Lord.
by Dom Prosper Gueranger, 1870
Our new-born King and Saviour is eight days old today; the Star, that guides the Magi, is advancing towards Bethlehem, and, five days hence, will be standing over the Stable where our Jesus is being nursed by his Mother. Today, the Son of Man is to be circumcised; this first sacrifice of his innocent Flesh must honour the eighth day of his mortal life. Today, also, a Name is to be given him–the Name will be Jesus, and it means Saviour. So that, Mysteries abound on this day: let us not pass one of them over, but honour them with all possible devotion and love.
But this Day is not exclusively devoted to the Circumcision of Jesus. The mystery of this Circumcision forms part of that other great mystery, the Incarnation and Infancy of our Saviour–a mystery on which the Church fixes her heart, not only during this Octave, but during the whole forty days of Christmas-Tide. Then, as regards our Lord's receiving the Name of Jesus, a special Feast, which we shall soon be keeping, is set apart in honour of it. There is another object, that shares the love and devotion of the Faithful, on this great Solemnity. This object is Mary, the Mother of God. The Church celebrates, today, the august prerogative of this divine Maternity, which was conferred on a mere creature, and which made her the co-operatrix with Jesus in the great work of man's salvation.
The holy Church of Rome used formerly to say two Masses on the first of January; one was for the Octave of Christmas Day, the other was in honour of Mary. She now unites the two intentions in one Sacrifice, in the same manner as, in the rest of this Day's Office, she unites together the acts of her adoration of the Son, and the expressions of her admiration for, and confidence in, the Mother.
Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the enthusiasm and profound respect, wherewith the Church extols the Blessed Virgin, and her prerogatives. Let us, on the contrary, be convinced, that all the praise the Church can give her, and all the devotion she can ever bear towards her, are far below what is due to her as Mother of the Incarnate God. No mortal will ever be able to describe, or even comprehend, how great a glory accrues to her from this sublime dignity. For, as the glory of Mary comes from her being the Mother of God, one would have first to comprehend God Himself, in order to measure the greatness of her dignity. It is to God, that Mary gave our human nature; it is God, whom she had as her Child; it is God, who gloried in rendering Himself, inasmuch as He is Man, subject to her: hence, the true value of such a dignity, possessed by a mere creature, can only be appreciated, in proportion to our knowledge of the sovereign perfections of the great God, who thus deigns to make Himself dependent upon that favoured creature. Let us, therefore, bow down in deepest adoration before the Majesty of our God; let us, therefore, acknowledge that we cannot respect, as it deserves, the extraordinary dignity of Her, whom He chose for His Mother.
The same sublime Mystery overpowers the mind from another point of view–what were the feelings of such a Mother towards such a Son? The Child she holds in her arms, and presses to her heart, is the Fruit of her virginal womb, and she loves Him as her own; she loves Him because she is His Mother, and a Mother loves her child as herself, nay, more than herself:–but, when she thinks upon the infinite majesty of Him, who has thus given Himself to her to be the object of her love and her fond caresses–she trembles in her humility, and her soul has to turn, in order to bear up against the overwhelming truth, to the other thought of the nine months she held this Babe in her womb, and of the filial smile he gave her when her eyes first met His. These two deep-rooted feelings–of a creature that adores, and of a Mother that loves–are in Mary's heart. The being Mother of God implies all this:–and may we not well say, that no pure creature could be exalted more than she? and that in order to comprehend her dignity, we should first have to comprehend God Himself? and that only God's infinite wisdom could plan such a work, and only His infinite power accomplish it?
A Mother of God!–It is the mystery, whose fulfillment the world, without knowing it, was awaiting for four thousand years. It is the work, which, in God's eyes, was incomparably greater than that of the creation of a million new worlds, for such a creation would cost Him nothing; he has but to speak, and all whatsoever he wills is made. But, that a creature should become Mother of God, He has had, not only to suspend the laws of nature by making a Virgin Mother, but also to put Himself in a state of dependence upon the happy creature He chose for His Mother. He had to give her rights over himself, and contract the obligation of certain duties towards her. He had to make Her His Mother, and Himself her Son.
It follows from all this, that the blessings of the Incarnation, for which we are indebted to the love wherewith the Divine Word loved us, may and ought to be referred, though in an inferior degree, to Mary herself. If she be the Mother of God, it is because she consented to it, for God vouchsafed, not only to ask her consent, but, moreover, to make the coming of His Son into this world depend upon her giving it. As this His Son, the Eternal Word, spoke His Fiat over chaos, and the answer to His word was creation; so did Mary use the same word Fiat:–let it be done unto me (St. Luke, i. 38), she said. God heard her word, and, immediately, the Son of God descended into her virginal womb. After God, then, it is to Mary, His ever Blessed Mother, that we are indebted for our Emmanuel.
The divine plan for the world's salvation included there being a Mother of God: and as heresy sought to deny the mystery of the Incarnation, it equally sought to deny the glorious prerogative of Mary. Nestorius asserted, that Jesus was only man; Mary, consequently was not Mother of God, but merely Mother of a Man, called Jesus. This impious doctrine roused the indignation of the Catholic world. The East and West united in proclaiming, that Jesus was God and Man, in unity of Person; and that Mary, being His Mother, was, in strict truth, “Mother of God.” This victory over Nestorianism was won at the Council of Ephesus. It was hailed by the Christians of those times with an enthusiasm of faith, which not only proved the tender love they had for the Mother of Jesus, but was sure to result in the setting up of some solemn trophy, that would perpetuate the memory of the victory. It was then that began, in both the Greek and Latin Churches, the pious custom of uniting, during Christmas, the veneration due to the Mother with the supreme worship given to the Son. The day assigned for the united commemoration varied in the several countries, but the sentiment of religion, which suggested the Feast, was one and the same throughout the entire Church.
At that time : After eight days were accomplished, that the Child should be circumcised, His name was called Jesus, which was called by the Angel, before He was conceived in the womb.
The Child is circumcised: He is, now, not only a member of the human race; He is made, today, a member of God's chosen People. He subjects Himself to this painful ceremony, to this symbol of one devoted to the Divine service, in order that He may fulfil all justice. He receives, at the same time, His Name:–the Name is Jesus, and it means a Saviour. A Saviour! Then, He is to save us? Yes; and He is to save us by His Blood. Such is the divine appointment, and he has bowed down his will to it. The Incarnate Word is upon the earth in order to offer a Sacrifice, and the Sacrifice is begun today. This first shedding of the Blood of the Man-God was sufficient to the fulness and perfection of a Sacrifice; but He is come to win the heart of the sinner, and that heart is so hard, that all the streams of that Precious Blood, which flow from the Cross on Calvary, will scarcely make it yield. The drops that were shed today would have been enough to satisfy the justice of the Eternal Father, but not to cure man's miseries, and the Babe's Heart would not be satisfied to leave us uncured. He came for man's sake, and His love for man will go to what looks like excess–He will carry out the whole meaning of His dear name–He will be our “Jesus,” our Saviour.
On this the Eighth Day since the Birth of our Emmanuel, let us consider the great mystery which the Gospel tells us was accomplished in his divine Flesh–the Circumcision. On this day, the earth sees the first-fruits of that Blood-shedding, which is to be its Redemption, and the first sufferings of that Divine Lamb, who is to atone for our sins. Let us compassionate our sweet Jesus, who meekly submits to the knife which is to put upon Him the sign of a Servant of God.
Mary, who has watched over Him with the most affectionate solicitude, has felt her heart sink within her, as each day brought her nearer to this hour of her Child's first suffering. She knows, that the justice of God does not necessarily require this first sacrifice, or might accept it, on account of its infinite value, for the world's salvation: and yet, the innocent Flesh of her Son must, even so early as this, be torn, and his Blood flow down his infant limbs.
What must be her affliction at seeing the preparations for this painful ceremony! She cannot leave her Jesus–and yet, how shall she bear to see Him writhe under this His first experience of suffering! She must stay, then, and hear His sobs and heartrending cries; she must bear the sight of the tears of her Divine Babe, forced from Him by the violence of the pain. We need St. Bonaventure to describe this wonderful mystery. “And if He weeps, thinkest thou his Mother could keep in her tears? No–she, too, wept, and when the Babe, who was standing on her lap, perceived her tears, He raised His little hand to her mouth and face, as though he would beckon to her not to weep, for it grieved Him to see Her weeping, whom He so tenderly loved. The Mother, on her side, was touched to the quick at the suffering and tears of the Babe, and she consoled Him by caresses and fond words; and as she was quick to see His thoughts, as though He had expressed them in words, she said to Him: If thou wishest me to cease weeping, weep not Thou, my Child! If Thou weepest, I must weep too. Then the Babe, from compassion for the Mother, repressed his sobs, and Mary wiped His eyes and her own, and put His Face to her own, and gave Him her Breast, and consoled him in every way she could (Meditations on the Life of Christ, by St. Bonaventure).”
And now, what shall we give in return to this Saviour of our souls for the Circumcision, which he has deigned to suffer, in order to show us how much He loved us? We must, according to the teaching of the Apostle, circumcise our heart from all its evil affections, its sins, and its wicked inclinations; we must begin, at once, to live that new life, of which the Infant Jesus is the sublime model. Let us thus show Him our compassion for this His earliest suffering for us, and be more attentive, than we have hitherto been, to the example He sets us. (1)(6)
by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Eight days later the time came to circumcise him, and he was given the name of Jesus, the name given by the Angel before he was conceived. [Luke 2: 21]
Circumcision was the symbol of the covenant between God and Abraham and his seed, and took place on the eighth day; circumcision presumed that the person circumcised was a sinner. The Babe was now taking the sinner's place——something He was to do all through His Life. Circumcision was a sign and token of membership in the body of Israel. Mere human birth did not bring a child into the body of God's chosen people. Another rite was required, as recorded in the Book of Genesis:
God said to Abraham, For your part, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation by generation. This is how you shall keep my covenant between myself and you and your descendants after you: circumcise yourselves, every male among you. [Genesis 17: 9-11]
Circumcision in the Old Testament was a prefiguring of Baptism in the New Testament. Both symbolize a renunciation of the flesh with its sins. The first was done by wounding of the body; the second, by cleansing the soul. The first incorporated the child into the body of Israel; the second incorporates the child into the body of the new Israel or the Church. The term .'Circumcision” was later used in the Scriptures to reveal the spiritual significance of applying the Cross to the flesh through self-discipline. Moses, in the Book of Deuteronomy clearly spoke of circumcising the heart. Jeremiah also used the same expression. St. Stephen, in his last address before being killed, told his hearers that they were uncircumcised in heart and ears. By submitting to this rite, which He need not have done because He was sinless, the Son of God made man satisfied the demands of His nation, just as He was to keep all the other Hebrew regulations. He kept the Passover; He observed the Sabbath; He went up to the Feasts; He obeyed the Old Law until the time came for Him to fulfill it by realizing and spiritualizing its shadowy prefigurements of God's dispensation. In the Circumcision of the Divine Child there was a dim suggestion and hint of Calvary, in the precious surrendering of blood. The shadow of the Cross was already hanging over a child eight days old. He would have seven blood-sheddings of which this was the first, the others being the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, and the Piercing of His Heart. But whenever there was an indication of Calvary, there was also some sign of glory; and it was at this moment when He was anticipating Calvary by shedding His blood that the name of Jesus was bestowed on Him.
A child only eight days old was already beginning the blood-shedding that would fulfill His perfect manhood. The cradle was tinged with crimson, a token of Calvary. The Precious Blood was beginning its long pilgrimage. Within an octave of His birth, Christ obeyed a law of which He Himself was the Author, a law which was to find its last application in Him. There had been sin in human blood, and now blood was already being poured out to do away with sin. As the East catches at sunset the colors of the West, so does the Circumcision reflect Calvary.
Must He begin redeeming all at once? Cannot the Cross wait? There will be plenty of time for it. Coming straight from the Father's Arm to the arms of His earthly mother, He is carried in her arms to His first Calvary. Many years later He will be taken from her arms again, after the bruising of the flesh on the Cross, when the Father's work is done.
Mary, Mother of God
Mary’s divine motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight. Mary has an important role to play in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. She consents to God’s invitation conveyed by the angel (Luke 1:26-38). Elizabeth proclaims: “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is thefruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lordshould come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43, emphasis added). Mary’s role as mother of God places her in a unique position in God’s redemptive plan.
Without naming Mary, Paul asserts that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4). Paul’s further statement that “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’“ helps us realize that Mary is mother to all the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
Some theologians also insist that Mary’s motherhood of Jesus is an important element in God’s creative plan. God’s “first” thought in creating was Jesus. Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the one who could give God perfect love and worship on behalf of all creation. As Jesus was “first” in God’s mind, Mary was “second” insofar as she was chosen from all eternity to be his mother.
The precise title “Mother of God” goes back at least to the third or fourth century. In the Greek form Theotokos (God-bearer), it became the touchstone of the Church’s teaching about the Incarnation. The Council of Ephesus in 431 insisted that the holy Fathers were right in calling the holy virgin Theotokos. At the end of this particular session, crowds of people marched through the street shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!” The tradition reaches to our own day. In its chapter on Mary’s role in the Church, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church calls Mary “Mother of God” 12 times.
Other themes come together at today’s celebration. It is the Octave of Christmas: Our remembrance of Mary’s divine motherhood injects a further note of Christmas joy. It is a day of prayer for world peace: Mary is the mother of the Prince of Peace. It is the first day of a new year: Mary continues to bring new life to her children—who are also God’s children.
“The Blessed Virgin was eternally predestined, in conjunction with the incarnation of the divine Word, to be the Mother of God. By decree of divine Providence, she served on earth as the loving mother of the divine Redeemer, an associate of unique nobility, and the Lord’s humble handmaid. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 61).
Walk With Me, Jesus:
At the end of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus assures us that He will be with us. He does not promise that our lives will be easy but he does assure us that He will walk with us intimately.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Modesty is the virtue which more than any other, reveals the affections of the heart.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Introduction – 365 Days of Divine Mercy begins!
The world we find ourselves living in today is a world of increasing violence, chaos, despair and interior isolation. It’s a world in which so many are connected through the means of modern communication, such as through the daily headlines and social media. As a result, we are increasingly aware of the countless problems and tragedies that so many people face each and every day. These tragedies are becoming a means of constant curiosity, satisfaction, and even obsession for so many.
As a result of being constantly bombarded with the sensational problems in our world, we are drawn in, daily, to the painful drama of a fallen world. We see sin and its consequences everywhere we look and it takes a toll on our souls.
So how do we deal with this constant awareness of the evils, sins and pain of so many people on such a regular basis? The only answer to that is what this book is all about: The Divine Mercy.
The Divine Mercy must become the lens through which we see all things. It must become the filter for everything we take in and everything we give out. The Divine Mercy is so deeply needed today and we can rest assured that He who is divine, desires to bestow this precious gift in abundance.
What is Mercy? More specifically, what is The Divine Mercy? The Divine Mercy is the grace and love of God alive in our lives. It’s God acting in us, upon us, and through us. It’s God taking control of our lives and teaching us how to think and how to act. It’s God possessing us so that we do not become possessed by the craziness of the world we live in.
The Divine Mercy of God is like a fountain of endless water in the midst of a parched and arid desert. It’s the source of refreshment and newness of life that we all seek, whether we realize it or not. It’s the deepest longing of our hearts and the only thing that will ever satiate the longing we have.
The world we live in tries to satisfy and satiate us through constant stimulation, excitement, drama and intrigue. The world is constantly offering us a false sense of happiness and fulfillment. The first step to discovering The Divine Mercy of God is to see the world for what it is. To see the lies and deceptions all around us and to turn our eyes to this font of truth and grace that we were made for. We need to turn to The Divine Mercy.
As a fountain of grace, gushing forth in an arid place, The Divine Mercy of God comes from a hidden source, keeps going and never runs out, and produces all that we need to find satisfaction in life. It’s like a vast ocean that we are called to plunge into and enter its depths. It’s endless and all-consuming.
Jesus has always given us images to try to describe the love He has for us. He is the loving Father, waiting for His wayward son to return. He is the Good Shepherd who seeks out the one stray sheep. He is the Good Samaritan who cared for the foreigner in dire need.
Of course, these can never fully explain the depths of His Mercy and love. Each image brings its own meaning to each person based on one’s own personal experience and history. One recent gift that God gave to us is Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska. She was born on August 25, 1905 in Kraków, Poland and died October 5, 1938 in the same city at the age of thirty-three. At the young age of twenty she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw and was later transferred to Płock and then to Vilnius. It was in Vilnius where she met her confessor, Father Michał Sopoćko who helped her immensely with many mystical graces she received from God. Sister Faustina was graced to receive daily private revelations from Jesus by which He revealed to her the abundance of His Divine Mercy.
At the direction of her superior and Fr. Sopoćko and Jesus Himself, she kept a diary of these mystical experiences which is known, today, as Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.
The goal to walk through the pages of her Diary, reflecting upon its messages over the period of a year. The Diary is reflected upon in a way that the reader will be able to easily ponder the message of Divine Mercy as it was revealed to Sister Faustina by Jesus Himself.
On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Sister Faustina on Divine Mercy Sunday. With her canonization, the messages of Saint Faustina continue to spread to a world so desperately in need of God’s abundant grace.
On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis began an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy for the Church and world. The following 365 reflections are the fruit of that Year of Mercy and was written during that Jubilee Year so as to help each person who reads them to enter more deeply into the Divine Mercy of God for years to come.