Feast of the Circumcision of Christ

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
“I must be about My Father’s Business”
Feast of the Circumcision of Christ
(Memory of Saint Basil the Great)
1 January, 2010
Colossians 2:8-12 ; Luke 2:20-21, 40-52
Hebrews 13:17-21 ; Luke 6:17-23


[This audio file has been edited since audio and written styles are not the same but very different ways of communication.]

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Christ is born.

Putting first things first, and having things in their proper order has always been our difficulty as human beings. Because of this, it is no wonder that when Jesus was in the Temple, both listening and asking questions (and also teaching, even at His young age), His parents did not expect to find Him there. It is not necessarily the first place that any of us would be searching for our child who is missing. Nevertheless, our Saviour gives us a very good word in His response to His parents, and that is : “‘I must be about My Father’s business’”. These are words for us all, all the time. We have to be about our Father’s business.

The first priority for us all must always be the Saviour, and the worship of God. This must be our first priority. Why ? It is because of love, and only because of love. It is not because it is written in stone that we must do this, or else. It is because of love. The relationship between us and God is always, only, about love. It is the response of love to God who loves us first (see 1 John 4:19). Our whole lives must be lived out in this context if we are Christians and we profess Christ. The Apostle reminds us : We are buried in Christ (see Romans 6:4). We are raised in Christ in our baptism. We are alive in Christ. Everything must be in the context of Christ in our lives.

It is true that we get distracted by all sorts of things : by worldly cares, by business, by activities, and by responsibilities. It is not for nothing that at every Divine Liturgy (except two), we are singing the Hymn of the Cherubim, and we are exhorting one another “to lay aside all earthly cares”, to put them aside for a while. We do this in order to allow the Lord to be first today, so that when we leave this holy Temple He will continue to be first in our lives. The rest of the day will be in the context of His being first in our lives. The next day we will have hope of beginning with Him and His service first, asking Him first : “Lord, what do You bless me to do today ?” “With Your blessing, what can be done better today than before ?” “How may I serve You better today ?” Everything for us must be in, of, and focussed on the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ, because He is the only reason for our life. He is really our only joy, our only consolation, our only protection, our only healing, our only hope.

As we saw Him coming down to the multitudes today, and healing all the people, so He continues to heal us all to this day. He Himself is our prime example of service – this self-emptying love which is so life-bearing and life-giving. This self-emptying love is, and always has been characteristic of us Orthodox Christians. It produces endless hospitality, endless concern, endless care and endless intercession one for another, for the living, for the departed. We are constantly praying and interceding for people who are in trouble and in sickness. That is the nature of our prayer and worship, and of our daily lives. Everything is in the context of Jesus Christ who is the Head of our Church, who is the Head of our life.

As the Apostle Paul points out in his words to us, we very often get confused and distracted by one thing or another. This happens especially when we are trying to explain our hope to people who are in the world and who do not understand Christ. They do not understand why we should have such joy, such peace, such hope. When we try to put it into words that they understand more clearly, we can sometimes get mixed up ourselves. People may not be so conscious about it in daily life, but most non-Christians are living according to some philosophical principle or other which they may have learned from their parents or the circumstances of life, or from listening to the radio or reading some sort of interesting books. When we are explaining our life in Christ to them, we have to use terms that they understand. However, we have to be very careful in using their words, lest we, ourselves, get confused by these philosophical principles, and forget our experience of Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. We cannot forget Who He is. We cannot make excuses to change and soften up Who He is in order to make it easier and more palatable for people.

This is where we have always gotten into trouble. That is how Arianism and other sorts of distortions showed up. They came about because of an over-accommodation with philosophy. We always have to be checking ourselves in our words, our conversation, our reason, and our logic : Am I conveying to others Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) ? In the words that I am using, am I faithful to Him ? Every day of our lives, everything must always be measured by Him, who is the Truth. He is our Truth, the one Truth. There are not multiple truths. There is only one Truth. Everything else that is true comes from Him.

Are we measuring ourselves by Him ? Are our lives conformed to Him ? Do our lives reflect Him ? Do we allow Him to give us the strength that we need to live our daily lives ? Do we accept the healing that He is constantly offering to us day by day, as He is doing to the people today, healing them ? Do we let Him heal us, also?

Let us ask the Mother of God, who is our prime example of obedience, conformity and unity with the love of Jesus Christ, to intercede for us, so that the Grace of the Holy Spirit will come upon us more today and tomorrow. May we be enabled more and more, with greater and greater joy and peace to glorify our Saviour Jesus Christ in everything, in every day of our lives, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.