+++ The Circumcision of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ
On the eighth day after His birth, the divine Child was taken to the Temple and duly circumcised according to the Jewish Law that had been observed from the time of Abraham. At this time He was given the name Jesus, the name announced to the most holy Virgin by the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). The Baptism of the New Covenant was prefigured in the Circumcision of the Old Covenant. The Lord's Circumcision shows that He took true human flesh upon Himself, not its semblance as heretics later taught of Him. The Lord was truly circumcised, desiring thus to fulfill all the Law, which He Himself had given through our forefathers and the prophets. Fulfilling all the ordinances of the Law, He superseded them by Baptism in His Church, for, as the Apostle declares: "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:15). (In the Church Calendar, this Feast of the Lord has neither Forefeast nor After-feast.)
St Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea
St Basil was born in the reign of the Emperor Constantine, in about 330. While still unbaptised, he spent fifteen years in Athens studying philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and other contemporary secular disciplines. Among his fellow-students were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. When already of mature years, he was in the Jordan together with his former tutor Evulios. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for nearly ten years, and died at the age of fifty. A great champion of Orthodoxy, a great torch of moral purity and zeal for the Faith, a great theological mind, a great builder and pillar of the Church of God, Basil fully deserved his title "the Great". In the Office for his Feast, he is referred to as a bee of the Church of Christ, bringing honey to the faithful but stinging those in heresy. Many of the writings of this Father of the Church have survived - theological, apologetic, on asceticism and on the Canons. There is also the Liturgy that bears his name. This Liturgy is celebrated ten times in the year: on January lst, on the Eves of Christmas and the Theophany, on every Sunday in the Great Fast with the exception of Palm Sunday, and on the Thursday and Saturday in Great Week. St Basil departed this life peacefully on January lst, 379, and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.
Martyr Basil of Ancyra
Saint Basil lived in the time of Julian the Apostate (331-363), and confessed his faith in Christ before the governor Saturninus. He was tortured in Ancyra, then sent to Constantinople, where he was suspended from a tree, stretched on a rack, beaten, then stabbed with red-hot needles. He was also thrown into a fiery furnace, but was not harmed. He was sent to Caesarea and was torn to pieces by lions in the arena. This saint, a layman, should not be confused with the other St Basil of Ancyra, who was a priest (March 22). Troparion — Tone 4 Your holy martyr Basil, O Lord, / Through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. / For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, / And shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through his intercessions, save our souls!
St. Gregory, bishop of Nazianzus (374) and father of St. Gregory the Theologian
The father of St. Gregory the Theologian died in peace in 374, a one hundred year old man.
Venerable Theodosius of Tryglia, abbot
New Martyr Peter of the Peloponnesos
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