For many, January 1st is the day we celebrate the New Year. However, the calendar of the Church Year celebrates something different. Do you know what it is?
I’ll give you a hint. There is ancient Jewish ceremony that was practiced on the eighth day of a boy’s life. If you guessed circumcision, you are correct. As such, this day is the occasion where we remember Our Lord first shedding his blood for us.
Over time, as people have perhaps become more squeamish, the emphasis came to be on the other part of this ancient custom. On the same day a Jewish boy was circumcised, he was also formally named. On most modern calendars of the Church Year, then, January 1 is called the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Either way, this day is an opportunity to renew our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. He is the one who suffered to save us, and in so doing to bring us into the fullness of our salvation.
That is also the message of our reading from Colossians as well. Baptism becomes our “spiritual circumcision”, now available to women as well as men. In it we die to the “flesh”, to the corrupt desires that separate us from God and each other. In it, we are raised to new life in Christ. That is the great hope on which we stake our lives.
As we begin a New Year, let us commit ourselves anew to following Jesus Christ with our whole heart; with all that we have and all that we are. In so doing, may we be willing to suffer for him even as he suffered for us. May our prayer be, “Lord Jesus, what would you have me do in 2009?” And then may we go on do it, letting nothing in heaven or on earth stand in our way.