On the 1st of January we celebrate the beginning of a New Year. But as Christians we celebrate also two very important mysteries in the life of Jesus, his circumcision and his naming. The first took place according to the Jewish Law, as it did for all male babies. It signifies entry into God’s covenant people, of which it is the outward sign.
But for Christians it carries deeper meanings: as a new-born baby Jesus is subject to the Law, yet as the eternal Son of God he is the one who actually gave the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai; and it is his first shedding of blood, a new stage in his sacrifice, that will be completed one day in his death and resurrection.
The giving of his name, Jesus, is equally significant. It means in Hebrew ‘God’s saves’ ands shows us who he really is for us and for all people everywhere – the Saviour of the world. The monogram below symbolises in Latin ‘Jesus, Salvation of Humankind’ (Iesus, hominis salvator IHS) Below too is a painting of his circumcision.
These two mysteries remind us that when the Word became flesh it was in a real, specific tradition, for as Jesus himself said, ‘Salvation comes from the Jews.’