Excerpt from the Homily on the Circumcision of Christ and St. Basil the Great, by St. Andrew of Crete
The Circumcision of Christ - Commemorated January 1
And what else does the eighth-day circumcision tell us? The eighth day is the completion of the week, and the beginning of the new. The child completes the week, and is perfected on the eighth day, being granted his name and being numbered with the perfect. The eighth day is the beginning of infancy, while through the period of the week he was a baby, now the child begins to learn. The eighth day leads on to the things of infancy: to crawl and to stand, and to speak, and to think. The week comes to completion, and the eighth day signifies perfection. Circumcision again signifies the name-giving, which the child undergoes on the eighth day.
And not without reason. For Abraham dwelt among the idols of his father, Thara, being part of his creation, until the Creator gave him a sign of a people set aside until His coming, that renewal may be granted to men. Circumcision removes a covering of flesh, and grants an eighth-day sign to the members. Circumcision declared that the presence of Christ was coming, and that He would grant rebirth through the Spirit. By the seal of circumcision, the people were granted divine correction from idolatry, and the ceasing of destruction through idol-mania.
The former things were a symbol of the new. For Christ was the eighth law-giver from Adam. Because Adam first received a law, and secondly Noah, and Abraham third, and Moses fourth, and David, regarding the Kingdom and the Tent of Glory, was the fifth law-giver. And Esthra, following the captivity of Babylon, for a second time gave the law to the nations that had transgressed it, and was the sixth. John the Baptist, who preached a baptism of repentance to the people, and purification through the water, was the seventh law-giver. Jesus Christ was the eighth.
Regarding this great Law-giver, Moses says: “The Lord God will raise a Prophet from among our bretheren like me; listen to Him. Every soul that does not hear that Prophet will be condemned.” Being the only one able to fulfill this, I perceive that he is referring to the Lord and Creator, Who worked divine and noetic works among us. And passing the Sabbath in His flesh through the law, on the eighth day of Resurrection, became the Law-giver for the whole world. I behold God, not only of the Jews, but of all nations, Who is born, anointed and perfecting all things in the Holy Spirit, and calling His own anointed people. And He cuts off our fleshly desires and passions, and turns them to a burnt sacrifice through good works, and actions of the Kingdom of the Heavens. He is truly the “Angel of Great Council of His Father, God almighty, Councilor, Prince of Peace, Father of the Age to come.”
And do you understand this well, why we rejoice at this feast, and take from this the glad tidings, and move from feast to feast, and come to know the servant of God? As if speaking of him, the scriptures say: “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God”, Who is the God of all. And those who approach him to clearly see his divine icon, are able. Who is this who we praise? It is Basil: the foundation of virtue, the longing of the Cappadocians, and the prided boast of the whole world, he who taught the Church in most magnificent words and deeds, through whom the Churches of the faithful take boast. For though there are many lawful and mystagogical ones before and after him, however, under his state, all ranks are united to see a new wonder. Thus the man's feast is received with worthy honor. And if we speak regarding him, those before us, who were men of greater theology, also take part in praising words of him.
And let us offer a word for this feast, its honor of which is among the greatest of feasts, and travel the road of the word, being strengthened by God, Who strengthens us in every good work, and say the following: “O man of God and faithful healer, and steward of the mysteries of God”, and “man of desires of the spirit.” Thus the Scriptures calls those dedicated to exalted and uplifted and lawful ways. I call you a god to Pharaoh, who overcame all the opposing power of the Egyptians, and pillar and foundation of the Church, and will of the Lord, and light shining in the world the word of life and the desire of the faith, and dwelling-place of the Spirit...
But with these divine praises, O Father Basil, you take part in the mansions of the patriarchs, and the mystagogy of the apostles of the prophets, and of the crowning of the martyrs, and of the choirs of monastics, and of the rewards of the divine hierarchs and all the righteous. Remember us, who are of like nature as you, who are in trouble; and ever intercede for us to the common Master for the salvation of all Christians.
Kings therefore bring forth righteousness and reverence of God, bearing in mind your words, that the eternal King rules above. Rulers and governors in piety become obedient, along with those who fight in war, and the rest of the people turn towards the divine faith in harmony, and are peaceful towards each other. The archpriests are anointed in theology, and govern well the Church of God that has been entrusted to them through your diving teaching. Priests keep piety, that they might live in a God-pleasing manner, and offer up hymns, and be crowned along with the whole city of the faithful, as a shepherd, by Him Who made Himself poor, though He is rich, and took on flesh in the womb [of the Theotokos], Who is seated above with the Father, and is laid in a cave and is wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, Who is hymned by the angels, and wondered at by the shepherds, Who was circumcised on the eighth day, and is named Jesus, Who offers cleansing, and is praised by Symeon and Anna, and escorted by the Magi, Who flees to Egypt, and “rents the handiwork of Egyptians”, Who, at the human age of perfection, was baptized by a servant, and drowns the sins of the world in the waters, Who is revealed to the world but is hated by the Judeans, and works strange wonders, Who ultimately was delivered to be crucified, and was then buried, that He might grant resurrection to those in slavery in hades, Who rose on the third day, making this second eighth day truly the day of rest, and in the coming eighth day at the end of the world, will come again, Who appears to His apostles, and Who was seen to ascend into the heavens, to raise me the humble one, Who is known in two natures, and Who is worshiped with the Father and the Spirit, Who has two wills and energies, Who remains touchable and untouchable, written and unwritten, depicted in places and icons, and through them, as through flesh and spirit is worshipped, Who is the archetype of His theologians and of all the Saints, Who shares all things with us, and is the archetype of the glory that is offered to you, O most-divine Father Basil, who wrote: “For the honor of the icon ascends to the prototype”. Therefore with orthodoxy, the nations are struck with fear, and islands of redemption are opened for the Church. Through sickness of men, the other-worldly icons are left to suffer, and we are endangered by the Hagarenes. These islands of the Church were seen beforehand by Isaiah, who said: “Be renewed, O islands, towards God”. For to Him, Christ our God, belong honor and glory and worship, together with the all-good Father and the all-holy and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the endless ages. Amen.