Circumcision of the Lord. Feast of St. Basil the Great


On January 14 the Church celebrates two important holy days: Circumcision of the Lord and memory of St. Basil the Great. In addition, this day used to be civil New Year’s Day in the countries adhering to the old calendar. On this solemn occasion we had a liturgical celebration in St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lessons Fr. Igor preached a sermon. He pointed out that we celebrate two feasts and also have Scripture readings assigned for the Sunday before Theophany because this year such a Sunday is missing. He then continued and said:

“In today’s first Epistle lesson St. Paul tells his disciple Timothy that his life comes to an end. Using a beautiful and poetic language he says, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4, 6).”
“Celebrating the beginning of the New Year we may come to think about our life. We may wonder how fast the time flies and reflect upon our life, upon its meaning and purpose. Thinking of that we may recall that many philosophers viewed human life as being empty and meaningless. They could call it “a pilgrimage from nowhere to nowhere”, an “illusion”, a “hollow bubble” and so on. But these were the thinkers who did not really believe in God. In contrast to them, the words of St. Paul in today’s lesson sound very refreshing and inspiring, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4, 7-8). St. Paul viewed his life as a “good fight”, a “race” for which he will be given a reward. To him the meaning of life was found. He realized it when he encountered Christ. After we meet Jesus, we know that the life has a plot. It leads somewhere. It has a purpose. It can result in a peace that passes all understanding. To exist is the part of every person, but life in all its fullness belongs only to those who have been united to Christ. Without Christ life is hopeless end; with Christ it is endless hope.”
“Today’s another Epistle lesson confirms that when we hear St. Paul warning against anyone who could cheat us “through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2, 8). He reminds us that in Jesus Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”, and that we become complete only in Him (Col. 2, 9). Speaking of the rite of circumcision St. Paul assures his listeners that in Christ we receive spiritual circumcision which is holy Baptism. Thus we have no need of bodily circumcision prescribed by the Old Testament law. Our Lord Jesus Christ whose Circumcision we commemorate today, allowed it to happen to His flesh in order to fulfill the Law of Moses and in order to show that He submits Himself to the rules existing among men. But His future followers became freed from such an obligation because they became “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in Baptism” (Col. 2, 11-12). If in the Old Testament circumcision rite only a small piece of flesh was removed, in the circumcision of Christ, in our Baptism, the whole flesh is supposed to be removed in a spiritual way. In Baptism we die to the flesh and live to God.”

“Becoming complete in Christ, we see the purpose of our life. Without Christ nothing in our life seems to have a purpose. Nothing fits. But if Jesus in our life is for real, everything fits, everything has meaning. If we need Christ and wish to live our lives with Him, we see that. And we seek some order to be introduced in our lives. This was very much understood by the Saint whose memory we celebrate today. St. Basil the Great all his life dedicated to the service of the Church, to the writings about God and to the summarizing rules of the Church life. Thanks to his labors we now have a great number of rules and canons which regulate our spiritual behavior and govern our Church discipline. Life had a meaning to St. Basil. And he lived it accordingly. He used the precious gift of time given to him to fulfill his works on earth. This time was short. But it was used abundantly. This is why when the holy hierarch passed from this life, another holy bishop said at his funeral, “Everything was good about you, o Basil; the only thing was bad, too short was time of you being a bishop in Caesarea”.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us seek and find the meaning and purpose of our life in Christ Jesus. In Him we may fight a good fight, we may win a good race and being spiritually circumcised in Him, we may receive the crown of righteousness prepared for those “who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 2, 8).”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers came before the icon stand and performed the rite of glorification singing the troparia and kontakia of both feasts, as well as the magnification of St. Basil. After celebration Fr. Igor congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the feast.