The Circumcision of the Lord

And here followeth His Circumcision.

The day of the circumcision of our Lord there be four things that make and show it to be holy and solemn. The first is the octave of the Nativity. The second the imposition of a new name bearing health. The third the effusion of his precious blood. The fourth the signs of the circumcision.

As for the first it appeareth, for the octave of saints be solemn, by much more reason ought it to be of him that is the saint of all saints. Now it seemeth that the Nativity of our Lord ought not to have none octave. For the nativity tendeth to the death. And the decease of saints have their octave because they be born of the nativity that stretcheth to life perdurable, for to be after glorified in body. And by the same way it seemeth that the nativity of the glorious Virgin Mary and of S. John Baptist, and of the Resurrection of our Lord ought not to have octave, for the resurrection was then done. Hereto we ought to consider, that, in this we should fulfil such things as we accomplished not in the principal day that our Lord was born in. Of which of ancient time men were wont to sing at the Mass: Vultum tuum domine, etc. to the honour of our Lady S. Mary. The other octaves of Paske, Whitsuntide, the nativity of our Lady and S. John Baptist be of devotion, as of other saints that men will honour for singular cause or affection. And they may be said the octaves of figuration, for they signify and figure the octave of the last resurrection perpetual, which is the eighth age.

And as to the second, this day was his name imposed to him, and was named with the new name that the mouth of God named. This is the name of which there is none other under heaven by which we may be saved, that is Jesus. Or otherwise by these eight days may be understood eight things, of which the considerati the nativity of Jesu Christ that is called the day of circumcision, we find that Jesu Christ said by the mouth of his saints: Non veni legem solvere sed adimplere; I came not, said Jesu Christ, to break the law, but to fulfil it. And he was that day circumcised and named Jesus, which is as much to say as Saviour.

And at the circumcision must he cut a little of the skin at the end of the member or yard, and that is signified and shewed that we ought to be circumcised, and cut and taken away from us the sins and evil vices, that is to wit pride, wrath, envy, covetousness, sloth, gluttony, and lechery, and all sins, and purge us by confession, by contrition, by satisfaction, by almsdeeds, and by prayers, and to give for God's sake of the goods that he hath lent us. For we have nothing proper, but Jesu Christ hath lent to us all that we have.

Then it is well reason that we do give for him to the poor of such goods as be his, for we be but servants, and we ought to give to the hungry meat, to the thirsty drink, to the naked clothing, visit the sick, and tofore all things to love God, and after, our neighbour as ourself; and despoil ourself from sin, and clothe us with good works and virtues, and follow the commandment of Jesu Christ. And in this manner we shall fulfil the will of our father Jesu Christ, if we been so purged and thus circumcised.

Text taken from Medieval Sourcebook: The Golden Legend (Aurea Legenda) - Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, 1275 - Englished by William Caxton, 1483.