Feast o f the Circumcision
We do everything by the clock. It was within a particular frame work of time that our God created the world and all in it. It was prescribed by our Creator God that a male child was to be dedicated to the service of the Lord in the Old Testament on the eighth day after his birth and this was rigidly adhered to because in the fullness of his own limited span on earth, the child was to be turned over to God as belonging to him.
"What time is it?" The incessant question is always asked and repeated. The first thing at night and the first thing in the morning, we ask, "What time is it?"
The parents of the Saviour lived by the clock as well. They observed all the feast days, fast days and celebrations which our God admonished them to do. Theirs was a life filled with prayer and devout living at all times. We sleep, we drink, work, play, study, relax and drive down the road by the clock. We worship our God publicly by the clock at the Divine Liturgy. We enter this world, as the Scripture tells us referring to the birth of the Saviour, "...when the fullness of time had come" Galatians 4: 4. We make our departure from this life in the same way. The time is always listed on our birth and death certificates as are all our infractions against the law. The wheels of commerce move by it, economic progress is regulated by it and priests are many times at war with it. There are periods when it just does not seem to be enough time to do what is needed for the salvation of souls. We is always so much more good news about Christ and salvation to share, but constraints by the clock adversely affect it.
What on earth would we do without the clock which not only regulates, but encourages us to do good works? While among us, our Lord was limited by time as well. But our heavenly Father, who is pure Spirit is not limited by time nor is his divine Son now returned to eternal glory. In the Book of Lamentations, we read that the favors of the Lord are never exhausted, his mercies never spent, even with the passage of time. They are renewed every morning, so great is his faithfulness. "The mercies of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies never spent; they are renewed each morning so great is his faithfulness." Lamentations 3: 22, 23. He continues to provide encouragement when he reminds us of the proper use of precious time, "My portion is the Lord, says my soul; therefore I will hope in him. Good is the Lord to the one who waits for him, to the soul that seeks him" Lamentations 3: 24, 25.
St. Basil the Great whose solemn feast we celebrate today was always aware of the shortness of his life as he prayed and offered his daily life to the glory of the Lord. His monastic rule prescribed that each portion of the day, according to set time should be devoted to praise of God. Thus he wished to establish a particular spirit more than a law so that all moments of life would resonate with praise and worship, even in all the seemingly simple and mundane, fleeting moments that fill our lives. He was rightly concerned about time because our heavenly Father withdrew him from earthly life the yet young age of 49. He apparently so filled his life with holy activity that his soul was prepared appropriately to enter into the waiting embracing arms of its Creator. He literally packed a great deal of soul-saving into this span of but a few years. His fundamental teaching was to "Let us search ad examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! I called you by your name, 0 Lord ...You heard my call ... You came to my aid ... You said, have no fear!" Lamentations 3: 40, 55 - 57.
Our blessed Church is constrained by time, but neither time nor space can be a barrier to believers. Simply because our time on earth is limited, God's Word encourages and makes it clear, "Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation" 2 Corinthians 6: 2.
It means every minute, each moment, each day of this year can be momentous for our soul if we make it so by cooperating with freely offered grace from heaven. Something of the value of time is revealed by the Psalmist. He said "We spend our years as a tale that is old ... so teach us to number our days..." Psalms 90: 9, 12. He speaks of making our time in life important and not frivolous for the salvation of our souls. We are taught to invest our time in eternity, not profligately waste it. "He shall reward every man according to his works" Matthew 16: 27. The seeming brevity of our lives cannot be mistaken as we read, "Man that is born of a woman is of a few days, and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and is cut down, swift as a shadow that does not last" Job 14: 1, 2.
The world around us is punching a time clock that moves it ahead faster than sound and many seem to think the Church of Jesus Christ of which we are communicants has been left behind in an archaic shell. The problem is not with the Body of Christ, but the godless age in which we live and which influences more subtly than we often realize. The world in actuality is far behind the Church though some consider and think the world is far ahead, "The Lord does not delay in keeping his promise, since he wants none to perish, but to come to repentance" 2 Peter 3: 9.
We should continue asking ourselves, "What time is it?" Have we set our clock in this impending new year of life by the clock and schedule of our God?