I don’t normally do Saturday posts, but the readings for today are fantastic (as I mentioned in my last post, it’s a Holy Day, but attending Mass is optional – despite my own advice in yesterday’s post, I missed this morning). Anyways, the first reading is from Number 6:22-27, and it contains the traditional Judeo-Christian blessing, which is perfect for the New Year:
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”
The Gospel then reminds us that this isn’t just New Year’s. It’s also the Eighth Day of Christmas, which is of enormous significance, since it’s when Jesus is officially named Jesus, and when He becomes a member of the Jewish nation through circumcision. From Luke 2:16-21,
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
The reason it’s day eight is because of God’s commandment in establishing the Old Covenant in Genesis 17:12. I’ve read that this is because it’s the first day that a child can safely be circumcised, because it’s when the baby’s body has higher-than-normal levels of Vitamin K. In any case, Jewish tradition ascribed it with going past the natural order. Just as the Mosaic Law built upon the natural law, day eight built upon the seven days of Creation. For Christians, we can also see in it a prefigurement of the Resurrection, which happened on the first day of the week (or one day after the seventh).
In between the First Reading and the Gospel is the Second Reading, from Galatians 4:4-7, which explains why it’s important that Jesus became “born under the Law” on the Eighth Day of Christmas:
Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.
It’s interesting that Paul describes circumcision as a sort of “birth” under the Law. Baptism, the fulfillment of circumcision (Colossians 2:11-14), is our second birth (John 3:3-5). In Baptism, we put on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), who is the Resurrection (John 11:25), that is, the Eighth Day Himself.