My heart changed.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus 

Thank you for joining as we continue in the celebration of the Christmas Season and in our expectation of the Lord’s return in glory.

The question on everyone’s mind – why celebrate this? I mean, think about it. This ceremony performed probably in Joseph and Mary’s home and all it entails – well it seems both minor and kind of gross.

The Roman Church got rid of this celebration and converted it to a Marian Feast. That cleaned it all up, right? They do not have to think about all this, and they thought they made it all pretty. Unfortunately, they lost the point.

So why do we celebrate our Lord’s circumcision? There are several very important reasons to celebrate.

One reason is that it is factual. January 1st is eight days from December 25th, and in accord with God’s instruction to Abraham which Joe so elegantly read, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised.

Another reason, and this is particularly important for us, is that the fact of the circumcision, the pain and loss of blood, was testament to Jesus’ humanity. Indeed, God had become man. Jesus laid down His Deity and took on our flesh so He could deliver on all the Father’s promises to us.

Jesus as man was the only One Who could save us from our sins by paying their penalty, Who could redeem us, and Who could make us new and co-heirs with Him to eternity in the Kingdom now and to come.

How privileged we all are that God became man, that His humanity was one-hundred percent real and full. Many ancient heresies tried to downplay or outright rejected Jesus’ humanity, but without that humanity we could not have been saved, our debt would not be paid, we would remain our old fallen selves.

In the circumcision we are reminded that this baby boy, Jesus, faced all we face. He was not some magical figure, sitting up in the manger and doing calculus, or speaking, or anything other than what 8-day old babies do – eating, crying, and needing a diaper change.

Finally, the circumcision is a sign in the old covenant, the covenant that Jesus, as God, enjoined on the Jewish people and all in their nation.

Jesus took on this sign of the old covenant in His flesh to declare that He was of Israel, its true son, and just as the sign of the old covenant was in His flesh so would the sign of the new covenant be in His flesh – in nail marks, scars, and a pierced side.

For us, the new covenant in Christ’s flesh and blood frees us, as St Paul says, from the Law and its prescriptions. We live a new changed existence in grace.

St. Paul is being very careful in exhorting the Galatians and us so we might perceive our new reality – who we really are as a changed people. The Galatians, and some today, believe that they can do stuff – be circumcised, cook a certain way, carry out lists of activities and be saved. How wrong they are!

Our salvation is in the God/man Jesus. He completed that work. Now we must accept Him, live changed lives, and walk His way in faith working through love.

Outstanding, outgoing,
out-of-here.

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD

Happy Sunday new Israel! Indeed, we are the new Israel. We are the holders of the New Covenant sealed in the blood of Jesus. As recipients, and beneficiaries of the New Covenant, we have the Lord written on our hearts. We are the Lord’s people. We belong to Him. With the Lord’s Law of love written within us, we no longer have need to be told ‘know this’ or ‘know that.’ Rather, we have innate and intimate knowledge of God’s way.

On this Sunday, dedicated to Brotherly Love, we see Jesus reminding us of the importance of living by the Word implanted in us. Two, a priest and a Levite, saw the man in need and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion. The priest and the Levite did not connect with the Covenant in their hearts. They ignored it, or misinterpreted it, or just plain missed it. Yet the Samaritan, who was supposed to be outside the Covenant, responded. He didn’t seek a book or an advisor for guidance, he responded with compassion. Jesus made His point about actually living the Covenant. Having done so, He told the young man, who wanted to justify himself, to “Go and do likewise.”

So it is to us. As children of the New Covenant, we must live fully connected to God’s way in the midst of every situation. What we see, the situations we run into, are all a call to action – to respond with the action of brotherly love.

The Covenant was in the Samaritan. It called him to act in an outstanding way, to stand out with love. The Covenant called the Samaritan to be outgoing, to go out of his way to act with love. The Covenant called the Samaritan to get out-of-here, to get out of his own head, thoughts, needs, and desires so to act with love. Today, throughout this week before BACK TO CHURCH SUNDAY, and thereafter, let us live the New Covenant in our hearts by being outstanding, outgoing, and out-of-here.