February 8, 2010

My New Older Brother

Yesterday afternoon I had the honor and joy of attending my new nephew's circumcision ceremony at the home of my brother and sister-in-law. It was an interesting and happy event, on both the natural and spiritual levels.

"You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout all generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days." (Genesis 17: 11-12, JPS)

And so it was for my little nephew: Yesterday he was eight days old, and my brother delegated a professional mohel to bring his son into the covenant.

On the natural level, I was happy for the new parents in their gratitude and wonder at their healthy little baby boy. I was happy for him too, having arrived in the world with two bright and gentle parents. It was good to see my family as we received the blessings of new identities and reconfigured relationships; to see my brother as a father and my parents in the beginning of their grandparenthood.

The afternoon was also quite fascinating on the supernatural level. Here's what really blew my mind: I've been on this earth for almost thirty-eight years, but as I looked at this tiny, eight-day-old baby sitting on the throne that had been prepared for Elijah, I saw someone older than me. Here was my senior, not my young nephew but my elder in the faith of Abraham, the Israel of history. For me, as a member of the "Israel of God," (Galatians 6:16) of the New Jerusalem that is the eschatological marriage of heaven and earth (Revelation 21:2), of the Body of Christ which is the Risen Son of Man containing in Himself the destiny that is the End Times already here, this baby will always be my older brother.

In these last days, by the astounding mercy of God I have been grafted into the faith of Abraham. I enjoy by privilege the faith that is my nephew's by right. May I always revere and respect my new little elder.

Here he is with his father, mother, and maternal grandmother, sporting his little skullcap and sucking on some gauze soaked in Manischewitz.


ben in denver said...

There is, of course, also the sense in which you are his older brother--having risen to new life in Chirst, the firstborn of creation.

for narnia said...

congratulations, Fr. C! how sweet your nephew looks! glad you were able to celebrate such a special ceremony with you family. thanks for sharing the photo. PEACE! ~tara t~

Rachel said...

What a sweet picture, and good thoughts!