21. January 1 Circumcision of Christ and Saint Basil the Great

I could not take my eyes off the newborn. It wasn't the mere beauty of an infant that struck me, with His round cheeks and baby-blue eyes, there was an unusual peacefulness about Him. Gazing upon the swaddled Infant in the manger gave me a strong sensation of calm, as if in His presence nothing could go wrong. The only time I have felt this way before was while speaking with God.

I overheard Joseph pray for the star to be extinguished because it was keeping him awake, so I immediately blew it out as I had seen Gabriel do. Honestly, I had been so mesmerized by the divine Infant that I didn't realize I was still holding the star.

In the darkness I could hear Him breathing with the steady rhythm of life. Our time together during those first few days was sublime; just me, Mary, Joseph and Jesus sleeping and eating and resting. We had all been through a lot and were very happy to stay put in the manger and do nothing except tend the Infant.

Eight days after the birth, a gaggle of angels appeared at the entrance to our happy home.

My surprised look at their arrival evoked a quick response, "We are here to witness the seal of the covenant upon this great grandchild of Abraham; the priest will soon be here. Get ready."

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"The Baby must have the flesh of His foreskin clipped, remember?"

"Actually, I am new here." I could hear angels giggling behind me.

The very patient lead angel, Clarence, explained to me, "Not very long after creation, a man named Abram had proven his faith in God. So God chose Abram to mark a nation of people for Himself out of which He would become incarnated as the Holy Savior, Jesus.

To mark a family for Himself, God made a covenant with Abram. The deal was that the childless 99 year old Abram would be called AbraHAm and become the father of many nations, and that kings would come from him, which did: King Saul, and David, King Solomon and many more. Also, the land of Canaan, where he was an alien, would be his.

All Abraham had to do in return was to walk before God and be blameless, and on the eighth day, after the birth of each male child of his offspring, the baby would be circumcised to keep the covenant between God and Abram in force.

Today's circumcision of the infant Jesus, the King of kings, marks the fulfillment of the covenant between God and Abraham. Abraham was indeed the father of many nations and of the King of kings, Jesus. There was no more to gain. God waited many generations for this moment, the birth of His only begotten Son, light of light, true God of true God, of one essence with Himself. Now hush, here comes the priest."

Boy did that Baby scream bloody murder. Surely He was as human as any baby I had ever heard. All the angels winced at the sound even though they had no concept of physical pain. The infant shriek resounded throughout the manger penetrating every human and angelic heart and nearly reducing us to tears of sympathy.

The priest left soon after, and the wailing baby Jesus wore himself into a deep sleep.

Mary and Joseph napped too because Jesus woke them several times each night for His feedings.

While my holy family was sleeping Gabriel appeared. "Quick, I have just come from Herod who is furious because the wise men did not return to tell him where to find the infant king of the Jews. He has ordered all children under the age of two to be slain. We must get Joseph and Mary out of here! Take them to Egypt immediately! "

Joseph awoke in a sweat having overheard Gabriel alerting me of the news, "An angel appeared to me while I slept." He said to Mary. "We must flee. Gather your things, quickly!"

"Are you serious?" She replied while placing her clothes and cooking utensils in a large satchel.

"Of course I am. What can I do to help you?" Joseph was glad that his wife wasn't as hysterical as he was. She seemed to have an uncanny ability to go with the flow of events, never worrying, just obeying.

Within an hour, my holy family and I were ready for the journey into Egypt. Having recently travelled from Persia to Palestine, I knew the drill. Slow and steady. I had no star to help guide this little family so I stayed close and managed to keep a few snakes and wolves away.

Fleeing to Egypt with Joseph reminded me of the story I had heard in heaven about another Joseph, son of Rachel and Israel (aka Jacob) whose brothers wanted to kill him because they were jealous. Instead, brother Rueben threw him in a cistern where he was found and sold into slavery in Egypt. Was I taking Joseph and the baby Jesus into Egypt to recreate Joseph's flight from the jealous, or to remind us of the exodus of God's people from bondage? In either case, the similarities felt a little eerie, like déjà vu.

As we were about to reach the Egyptian border, I heard in the distance weeping and great mourning, women bemoaning their babies and toddlers that Herod had killed in a vain attempt to keep his throne away from God. 'Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.' Weeping with them, I was thunderstruck by how evil humans can be. Lucifer has certainly wrought havoc upon creation with his defiance of God.

Because the Bride's year is flat blending centuries into one mystical year, on this day too a mature reflection of the poor infant refugee enters the refuge of heaven. He meets God as Christ face to face. His name is Basil, which coincidentally translates in Greek as king.

"Welcome, my good and faithful servant! Enter into your rest." greeted the victorious Christ. "What a striking coincidence that you should arrive today of all days, when I was both covenant giver (God) and covenant receiver (human), you who so fervently defended my dual nature."

Basil looked curiously into Christ's eyes. "My Lord, my brothers and I were right weren't we? You truly are both completely God and completely human, right?

Jesus smiled compassionately, then said, "Basil, you see me as Christ because I want you to. Unless I was the creator of heaven and earth, then how could I elevate mankind to my level?"

Basil replied, "How I have longed for your wisdom my Lord?"

"And you have done well. By intentionally remaining poor, and by denying yourself foods and even sleep, you slowly came to understand why I relinquished power and glory to usher My children into My Life."

"Ha!" laughed Basil with the full bellied laugh of someone who is both happy and relieved. "I KNEW Arias was wrong! God, You didn't create Jesus, you ARE Jesus!" A distant sensation flashed through Basil's memory of moments of doubt which he had fought.

Jesus interrupted Basil's daydream to add. "If I hadn't become completely human, then you couldn't be here now talking to me. I had to show you the way from man to God by going there myself. Enough of all that! Come, I have had my baker make us a Vasilopita. Let's cut it together."

Basil laughed and laughed, thinking about how either he in heaven or Jesus God could benefit by winning the coin. What could be better than having a New Year's Day birthday in heaven, and talking to God?

Jesus, reading Basil's mind replied, "I just want to see if I win!" and smiled the biggest, most radiant smile Basil had ever seen.