My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON THE SIXTH DAY OF THE MONTH OF JANUARY
WE CELEBRATE AND COMMEMORATE THE
DIVINE THEOPHANY OF OUR LORD, GOD, AND
SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
About the beginning of our Lord’s 30th year, Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist, who was some 6 months older than our Savior according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood received a command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching the baptism OF REPENTANCE unto the remission of sins. Then our Savior also came from Galilee to the River Jordan and sought and received baptism–though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Whereupon, there came to pass those marvelous deeds, great and beyond nature, the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized, and the voice was heard from the Heavens bearing witness that this was the Beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY TRINITY) [Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22]. From these Events, the DIVINITY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THE GREAT MYSTERY OF THE HOLY TRINITY WERE DEMONSTRATED. It is also from this that the present Feast is called "THEOPHANY," that is THE DIVINE MANIFESTATION, GOD’S APPEARANCE AMONG MEN. On this Venerable Day the Sacred Mystery of Christian Baptism was inaugurated; henceforth BEGAN THE SAVING PREACHING OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of the Feast. First Tone
WHEN Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of
the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare
witness to Thee, calling Thee His Beloved Son. And the Spirit in
the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ
Our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world,
glory be to Thee.
Kontakion Hymn of the Feast. Fourth Tone
ON this day Thou hast appeared unto the whole world, and Thy
Light, O Sovereign Lord, is signed on us who sing Thy praise
and chant with knowledge: Thou has now come, Thou hast
appeared, O Thou Light unapproachable.
Jesus was baptized at 30 because man at that age has been prey to all passions, as Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Theophylact teach. First come childhood, a time of ignorance and foolishness; then youth, when carnal desires burn fiercely. Finally, at 30, man is fully an adult (according to Saint John Chrysostom) and inclined to vainglory, anger, indignation, and every offense. Christ the Lord waited till He reached the age of thirty to be baptized fulfilling the Law and sanctifying our nature at every stage of life; granting us victory over base inclinations and protecting us from mortal trespasses.
Homily on the Day of Holy Illumination
by Saint John Chrysostomos
Beloved, I wish to celebrate and exult, for the Holy Day of Illumination is both the portal of jubilation and the seal of feasts. It is the culmination of the appearance of the Ancient of Days in the cave in Bethlehem, for the Suckling Who lay in the Manger now releases the streams of Jordan, in which He is baptized with sinners. By touching His Immaculate members, Jordan’s waters have gained power TO REMIT THE WHOLE WORLD’S INIQUITIES. Coming forth from the womb of the Most Pure Virgin, Christ appeared as a Babe among babes, as Man among men, as a son to His Mother, as as a King to the Magi. He manifested Himself as the Good Shepherd, Who "giveth His life for the sheep," (John, ch. 10) in the words of Divine Scripture. Today the same Jesus has appeared on the riverbank to cleanse publicans and sinners. Astonished by the unprecedented occurrence, the divine Paul cries, "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men!" (Titus, ch. 2). Everything existent is brightly illumined, beginning with heaven, whence sounds the voice of the Father. The sky is hallowed by the descend of the Spirit, the nature of water is sanctified and alls men to wash their souls and bodies. The hole of creation makes merry, except for the devil, who knows that the font is tthis destruction.
"…The Jews will witness Thy miracles throughout their land. Thou wilt cleanse lepers by a word; the finge of Thy garment will staunch a flow of blood; by Thy command a parlytic will walk. Thou wilt cast a crumb from the table of Thy marvels to the daughter of a woman of Canaan, healing her; Thou wilt open the eyes of a man blind man with clay made of spittle. How is it that Thou requires me to lay my hand upon Thee? "I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? Thou touchest the mountains the mountains a they smoke; Thou walkest upon water as though it were dry land. Many times have I declared, "There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latched of Whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." I can only trust in Thine ineffable kindness and hope in Thy love for mankind, knowing that Thou wilt permit a harlot to wash Thy feet with her hair and touch Thy most pure head."
And how does the Lord answer John? "Suffer it to be so now," He says, "for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Serve as voice for the Logos/Word; act as servant on behalf of the Master, as soldier for the King, as clay for the potter. Take courage and baptize Me, FOR I SHALL SAVE THE WORLD. I SHALL SURRENDER MYSELF TO DEATH TO RESTORE HUMAN NATURE TO LIFE. Despite My command, you hesitate to touch Me, but shortly the Jews will lay shameless hands on Me, delivering Me to death. "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us." In My love for mankind, I resolved before the ages to save the human race. For man’s sake I became man. How, then, can it so amaze you that I come as the Son of man to be baptized? I come because I care for the work of My hands. I am not ashamed of the earthborn nature I have assumed. Putting on what was not Mine, I remain the same in My Divinity as before the ages. "Suffer it to be now," because I have come to expel the enemy of the human race, who was cast down from heaven, proscribed on earth, and has his retreat in the waters. It was about Me that the Prophet said: "Thou didst break the heads of the dragons in the water". "Suffer it to be so now" since the foe prepares to beguile Me as man, and Iw wish to undergo temptation, that I may demonstrate his impotence and rebuke him, saying, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Oh, new wonder! Oh, ineffable condescension! Christ contends and I am crowned. He wrestles with the devil, and I am triumphant. He crushes the head of the dragon in the water, and a wreath of victory is placed on my head. He is baptized, and I am cleansed. The Holy Spirit descends on Him, and my sins are remitted. The Father declares that He is the Beloved Son, and I become a chkld of God for His sake. Heaven opens for Him and I enter. The Kingdom is revealed and I inherit it. The Father speaks to Him, and I am called. He is approved, and I am no longer cast out. For all this I glorify the Father, Whose voice was heard from on high; the Son baptized below, and the Holy Spirt, come down in the form of a dove; the ONE God in Trinity, to Whom be all worship forever. Amen." (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With agape in His Divine Theophany,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George