29th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 4. The Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (379). Sunday before Theophany.
Tone 4 Troparion
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Your Resurrection, they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: “Death is overthrown! Christ God is risen,// granting the world great mercy!”
Tone 1 Troparion (Circumcision)
Enthroned on high with the Eternal Father and Your divine Spirit, O Jesus, You willed to be born on earth of the unwedded handmaid, Your Mother. Therefore You were circumcised as an eight-day-old Child. Glory to Your most gracious counsel; glory to Your dispensation;// glory to Your condescension, O only Lover of man!
Tone 1 (St. Basil)
Your proclamation has gone out into all the earth, which was divinely taught by hearing your voice. You expounded the nature of creatures and ennobled the manners of men. O venerable Father of royal priesthood,// entreat Christ God that our souls may be saved!
Tone 4 Kontakion (Resurrection)
My Savior and Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earth-born from their chains. He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master,// He has risen on the third day!
Tone 4 Kontakion (St. Basil)
You were revealed as the sure foundation of the Church, granting all mankind a lordship which cannot be taken away,// sealing it with your precepts, O venerable Basil, revealer of heaven.
Tone 3 Kontakion (Feast)
The Lord of all accepts to be circumcised, thus, as He is good, He excises the sins of mortal men. Today He grants the world salvation, while light-bearing Basil, high priest of our Creator,// rejoices in heaven as a divine initiate of Christ.
Tone 6 Prokeimenon (Sunday Before and Circumcision)
O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! (Ps. 27:9a)
V. To You, O Lord, will I call. O my God, be not silent to me! (Ps. 27)
Tone 1 Prokeimenon (St. Basil)
My mouth shall speak wisdom, / the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. (Ps. 48:3)
2 Timothy 4:5-8 (Epistle, Sunday Before)
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Colossians 2:8-12 (Epistle, Circumcision)
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also 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, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. O God, be bountiful to us and bless us, show the light of Your countenance upon us, and have mercy on us. (Ps. 66:1)
V. That we may know Your way upon the earth, and Your salvation among all the nations. (Ps. 66:2)
V. Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, You Who lead Joseph like a flock! (Ps. 79:1)
Mark 1:1-8 (Gospel, Sunday Before)
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.’” John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 2:20-21, 40-52 (Gospel, Circumcision)
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
The Circumcision of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
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 Savva 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. oca.org
Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea
Basil was born during the reign of Emperor Constantine. While still unbaptized, he spent fifteen years in Athens, where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and all the other secular sciences of that time. His colleagues there were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. In his mature years he was baptized in the Jordan River along with Ebulios, his former teacher. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for almost ten years and completed his earthly life fifty years after his birth. He was a great defender of Orthodoxy, a great light of moral purity, a religious zealot, a great theological mind, and a great builder and pillar of the Church of God. Basil fully deserved the title “Great.” In liturgical services he is referred to as the “bee of the Church of Christ, which brings honey to the faithful and with its stinger pricks the heretics.” Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved; they include theological, apologetical, ascetical and canonical writings, as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy named after him. This Divine Liturgy is celebrated ten times during the year: on the first of January, his feast day; on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord; on the eve of the Theophany of our Lord; on all Sundays of Great Lent except Palm Sunday; on Great and Holy Thursday; and on Great and Holy Saturday. St. Basil reposed peacefully on January 1, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.
Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
Why is it necessary to listen to the Church and not to a man who thinks against the Church, even though he might be called the greatest thinker? Because the Church was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and is guided by the inspiration of the Spirit of God; because the Church represents the realm of the Holy, a grove of cultivated fruit trees. If someone rises up against the realm of the Holy, it means that he is unholy. Why then listen to him? “The Church is an enclosure,” says the all-wise John Chrysostom. “If you are within, the wolf does not enter; but if you leave, the beasts will seize you. Do not distance yourself from the Church; there is nothing mightier than the Church. The Church is your hope. The Church is your salvation. The Church is higher than the heavens. The Church is harder than stone. The Church is wider than the world. The Church never grows old but always renews itself.”
— Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid
If you want to achieve that which you want and desire- I mean God’s blessings- and if you want to change from a human being into an angel on earth, love the affliction of the body, accept adversity and, in particular, love temptations, because these are what will bring you every good thing.
— Saint Symeon the New Theologian
If Orthodox believers continue to repent and apply themselves to the pure prayer of the heart, they’ll transform that heart to such an extent that it’ll be receptive to the vision of the uncreated light. With the sight of the uncreated light, the faithful then experience deification, sanctity itself in the highest degree, direct vision of God.
— Elder Efraim of Vatopaidi
Speak as a learner not as a teacher. In all things, think that you need to be taught and you’ll be wise all your life.
— Saint Isaac the Syrian