Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Day: Why the Male member is Holy!

The old Roman Church calendar had January 1 as the Feast of the Circumcision ("tuli" in Filipino) of Christ. Why there is a circumcision is told in Genesis 17 as a reminder of YHWH's covenant with Abraham. Verse 12 has it as

"And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed."

In the covenant, Abraham was promised that he will have many descendants by his wife Sarah. Abraham's son with Sarah' Isaac was circumcised 8 days after he was born, his eldest son with Sarahs servant Hagar, Ishmael, at 13 years and Abraham himself at 90 years.

Christian Tradition holds that the real start of Jesus's shedding of blood for our salvation started on his circumcision. This was also the time when Jesus was named as Jesus. Another name of the feast is "The Naming of Jesus"

The new Roman Calendar promulgated by Paul VI has January 1 as a Marian feast, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This is a Holy Day of obligation in some countries most notably the USA and Canada.

While renaming the feast in honour of Mary is laudable as it focuses on her motherhood as Theotokos (all other Marian feasts like the Assumption and Immaculate Conception follow from this), it misses out on one thing. Jesus, even as a baby, was already in the business of atoning for us. The circumcision links Jesus with Abraham and his covenants with the Lord.

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1928) has for the collect of the feast as

"Almighty God, who madest they Blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts. we in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen"

The Epistle in the old Roman Missal for the day had Titus 2: 11-15 which challenges Mass goers to 'reject ungodliness and worldly lusts". This fits in so perfectly with the Anglican BCP's collect!

The Anglican Epistle is Philippians 2: 9, the Carmen Christi which exalts the Holy Name of Jesus.

"That at the Name of Jesus, which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.......of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth... that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father."

The old feast reminds Christians that all are holy, our bodies, other people, the soul, life, and the environment, and these were redeemed by Christ's shedding of blood. Since almost all Filipino men are circumcised, every time they take it out for nature's call, they must be reminded that theirs too is circumcised. So what they have in their hands too is holy and it should not be used for what Epistles and Collects for the feast day warn men against!

And all should should kneel at the Name of Jesus to the Glory of the Father in Heaven!

A Blessed New Year to all.

2 comments: said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing this info and perspective. Putting bigger meaning to what the male tradition is really about. Happy New Year!

blackshama said...

We have to recover the old traditions.