“And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus” (Luke 2:21).
Jesus suffered himself to be placed in the ranks of sinners. He came like a vile slave to carry upon his own flesh a servile character and the mark of Original Sin. Here he is, then, to all appearances a son of Adam like the others. It was necessary that he too carry the mark of sin, just as he would carry its penalty.
Yet instead of being like us, impure in our origin, he was holy in his origin, conceived by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies all things, and united in person to the Son of God, who is the Holy of holies in his essence. The Spirit that sanctifies us in our regeneration is the one by which Jesus Christ was conceived, by whom his holy flesh was formed, and who was naturally infused in his holy soul, in such a way that he did not need to be circumcised. He submitted to this law only to fulfill the claims of justice and to give the world an example of perfect obedience.
Nevertheless, by receiving circumcision, he rendered himself, as Saint Paul said, “bound to keep the whole law” (Gal. 5:3). He did this for our sakes, in order to free us from that heavy yoke. Behold us, then, free by the slavery of Jesus: let us walk in the liberty of the sons of God, no longer in a spirit of fear and terror, but in a spirit of love and confidence.
The name of the Savior is a pledge of this confidence for us. Jesus saves us from our sins, just as he said he would, by remitting those we have committed, by helping us to avoid sin, and by leading us to the life in which we will never sin again.
It was “by his own blood” that he “secured us an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). It was necessary that it cost him some blood to receive the name of Jesus. This little bit of bloodshed was the promise that all of it would at last be poured out, and it was the beginning of our redemption. I see, O Jesus, all your veins cut open, your whole body wounded, your head and your side pierced, your blood flowing out in great streams, and yet you hold it back and reserve it for the Cross. Receive, then, the name of Jesus: you are worthy of it, and you have begun its purchase by your blood. Receive this name at which “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).
The Lamb that sheds its blood deserves to receive all adoration, all worship, all praise, all thanksgiving (cf. Rev. 5:12). I have heard every creature in heaven and on the earth and under the earth cry out with a great voice: “Salvation belongs to our God” (Rev. 7:10).
Salvation comes from him because he sends us the Savior. Hail to the Lamb who is the Savior himself. Hail to us who participate in his name. If he is the Savior, we are the saved, and we carry this glorious name before which the whole universe bends its knee and the demons tremble. Let us not fear anything, for everything is at our feet. Let us think only about conquering ourselves: everything must be conquered, because we are already bearing the victor’s name. Take heart, he says, for “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33), and to him “who conquers, I will grant . . . to sit with me on my throne” (Rev. 3:21).
The Star of the Magi
Behold the first fruits of the blood of Jesus among the Gentiles. “We have seen his star” (Matt. 2:2). What quality of this star made it a herald of the glory of God from the heavens? How was it able to be called the star of the King of kings, of the newborn Christ, and to summon the Magi?
Balaam of Moab, a prophet among the Gentiles, saw Jesus Christ like a star, and he said, “A star shall come forth out of Jacob” (Num. 24:17). This star that appeared to the Magi was the one Balaam had foreseen. Had the prophecy of Balaam been spread throughout the East and Arabia and come to the ears of the Magi? Whatever may have been the case, a star that appeared only to the eyes could not have drawn the Magi to the newborn King; for this, the star of Jacob and the light of Christ must shine in their hearts. In the presence of the sign that shone without, God touched them within by that inspiration of which Jesus spoke: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).
The star of the Magi is thus an inspiration in the heart. Something unknown shines within you. You are in the darkness and among dissipations, or perhaps even the world’s corruption: turn to the East, where the stars arise; turn to Jesus Christ, who is the Orient, where you will see arising like a star the love of virtue and truth. Go forward then; imitate the Magi. “We have seen his star, and we have come” (Matt. 2:2). We saw it, and we started after it. To go where? We still do not know. We begin by leaving our homes. You should leave the world itself, that world for which this new star, this chaste inspiration that burns your heart, begins to give you a secret distaste.
Go to Jerusalem; receive the light of the Church. Go, leave behind your home, or rather, leave the place of your banishment that you take to be your home, because it is in corruption that you were born. From your mother’s womb, accustomed to the life of the senses, pass now to another region. There you will find the doctors who will interpret the prophecies for you and help you to understand the plan of God. And you will walk securely, thanks to their direction. Learn to know Jerusalem, and the crèche of your Savior, and the bread that he prepares for you in Bethlehem.