Fra Angelico, Circumcision of Jesus
Florence, Museum of San Marco
Angelico's picture of the Circumcision leaves no doubt
about what's happening!
"When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb."
(Luke 2:21) Gospel for January 1, 2012, Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Before the revision of the calendar that followed Vatican II, January 1st was the feast of the Circumcision of the Lord. This is still the text of the Gospel for January 1, even though the feast is now that of the Theotokos, the Holy Mother of God.
The event of the Circumcision makes manifest that Jesus is a real human being, a real little Jewish boy baby. It marks him as a Jew according to the law of Moses. It is also His first experience of human pain and the first shedding of His Blood.
So, while the secular world celebrates the beginning of a new year, full of new possibilities and new hopes for the future, the Church also marks the beginning of something new -- by commemorating the first experience of human suffering by the Incarnate Word.