Feast of Theophany 2017
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
When our Lord reached 30 years from His physical birth, He began His teaching and saving work. He Himself signified this “beginning of the beginning” by His baptism in the river Jordan.
St Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the 4th century, says, “The beginning of the world was water; the beginning of the Good News of our salvation was river Jordan.”
In biblical symbolism, water is a symbol of life and creation. And in descending into the waters of baptism, Christ cleanses and renews creation, and gives the waters of baptism the power to purge us of our sins and renew us.
At the time of baptism of the Lord in water, the Father was revealed to us through the sense of hearing, when He pronounced His witness to Christ by saying, “This is My beloved Son.” The Holy Spirit was revealed to us through the sense of sight, when He descended upon Christ in the form of a dove. And Christ was revealed to us as the Son of God through the sense of touch, when John the Baptist laid his hand on the head of Christ to baptize Him.
When John the Baptist immersed and baptized the Lord, the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation were revealed also. That is to say: the Lord took upon Himself the sins of mankind and died under them, this is shown in the immersion under the water. And He became alive again, which is shown in Him coming out of the water.
And so we die as the old sinful man and become alive again cleansed, renewed, and regenerated in our own baptism. We say that our baptism is the death to the world, to our sins, and new birth in Christ. That’s why when we are baptized, we are not sprinkled with water, but we are fully immersed in the water – we go under the water because when we die, we go under the ground. And we are reborn by coming out of the water.
So today, on the feast of Theophany, the Church calls us to renew our baptism and to live up to our calling to be pure children of light. Just as no physical life is possible without water and light, so too spiritual life can’t be sustained if we are not perpetually cleansed and if we do not walk in the light of Christ.
Through the prayers of Theotokos and St John the Baptist, may our Lord grant us to always walk in His light and do His will.