Dear brothers and sisters,
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,
Today we celebrate the eighth day of Christmas, the Octave of Christmas. On this day according to ancient Jewish law (Gn 17:10, 12; Lv 12:3.) every newborn son is circumcised as a sign of their entry into the covenantal relationship the Israelites had with God.
Circumcision and naming of sons were for the Israelites in the Old Testament what baptism is for all of us in the New Testament. By circumcision and naming, baby Jesus was welcomed into the body of Abraham’s family, of Adam and Eve’s family.
We recall though that this particular Baby is no ordinary baby but the very Creator of Adam and Eve and all of their children. The family into which He is entering is the family that God the Father promised in the Garden of Eden He would save from their sins through the Woman and her offspring (Genesis 3:15).
God fulfills His promise on Christmas night. The Woman and her Offspring are Mary and Jesus whom Joseph has named Jesus just as the angel had told him. The name Jesus and His mission are identical: He will save us from our sins.
So it is fitting to celebrate today as the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God. In this title is contained the promise of God to save us through the Woman and her Son. Her Son is God Himself, the Son of the Father conceived by the Holy Spirit in her virgin womb, a womb that is blessed with the fullness of grace.
The Holy Trinity is here to save us. God has condescended to our lowly and fallen nature and has begun to save us. Mary and Joseph are the first to be adopted into their Divine Mission of saving us and restoring us into the Divine Family from which we have been exiled.
John the Baptist and his parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth are sinners who have also become recipients of salvation and partakers in God’s mission of saving humanity.
The shepherds too in the field are recipients of the good news and are introduced into the redeemed humanity of the Mother and her Baby, the Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes just like the lambs they wrap in swaddling clothes for the sacrifices in the Temple in Jerusalem.
The shepherds have begun to ponder like Mary and with Mary on the path that they are going to take with the Baby: the path to the Temple in Jerusalem where the Lamb of God will be sacrificed to take away the sins of the world.
The Baby Himself will become the Lamb, the Priest, the Temple that is going to flood humanity and all creation with His Love, the Love that will burst forth from the depths of His very human heart, the heart that will be pierced open for us by the lance of all the sins of humanity.
The Baby will then be wrapped up once again by His Mother in burial clothes that would not be too different again from the swaddling clothes He was wrapped in at His birth. On the third day, the Son of Mary will shed those clothes and rise and open for us the gates to Paradise. With Mary and her Son, we are able to return and behold again the face of our Father. – Fr. Simi.