My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THEOPHANY, THE MANIFESTATION OF THE HOLY TRINITY
UNTO THE WHOLE WORLD.
"When Thou was 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 to Thee." (Apolytikion)
Our Savior Jesus Christ came to Galilee to the Jordan and sought and received baptism–though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Whereupon, there became 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 begging baptized, and the Voice was heard from the Heavens bearing witness that this was the Beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22). From these events, THE DIVINITY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND TH GREAT MYSTERY OF THE TRINITY WERE DEMONSTRATED. It is also from this that the present Holy Feast is called "THEOPHANEIA," that is, THE DIVINE MANIFESTATION, GOD’S APPEARANCE AMONG MEN. On this Venerable Day the Sacred Mystery of Christian Baptism was inaugurated; henceforth also began the SAVING PREACHING OF THE Kingdom of the Heavens.
Titus 3:5-7: He (Christ) "according to His mercy saved us, by the washing of REGENERATION (in Baptism), and renewing of the Holy Spirit… that being justified by His Grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Ephesians 4:30: "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption" (that is today, the day of Baptism and the receiving of the Seal of the Holy Spirit).
Baptism by water is called to the Apostolic Scriptures likewise a "new birth, adoption, sanctification. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 6:11). "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:7).
Saint Symeon the New Theologian explains how, through the Sacrifice of Christ, man can be cleansed of sin and delivered FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH, receiving WITHIN HIMSELF THE GRACE OF GOD as Adam had it before the Fall: "One Person of the Holy Trinity, namely the Son and Logos/Word of God, having become INCARNATE, OFFERED HIMSELF IN THE FLESH AS A SACRIFICE TO THE DIVINITY OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON HIMSELF, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, IN ORDER THAT THE FIRST TRANSGRESSION OF ADAM MIGHT BE BENEVOLENTLY FORGIVEN FOR THE SAKE OF THIS GREAT AND FEARFUL WORK, THAT IS, FOR THE SAKE OF THIS SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, and in order that by its power there might be performed ANOTHER NEW BIRTH AND RE-CREATION OF AMN IN Holy Baptism, in which we also are CLEANSED BY WATER MINGLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. From that time people are baptized in water, ARE IMMERSED IN IT, AND TAKEN OUT FROM IT THREE TIMES, IN THE IMAGE OF THE THREE-DAY BURIAL OF THE LORD, and after they die in it to this whole world, in the third bringing out from it they are ALREADY ALIVE, AS IF RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, THAT IS, THEIR SOULS ARE BROUGHT TO LIFE AND AGAIN RECEIVE THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AS Adam had it before the transgression. Then they are ANOINTED WITH Holy Myrrh, and by means of it ARE ANOINTED WITH JESUS CHRIST, AND ARE FRAGRANT IN A WAY ABOVE NATURE. Having become in this way WORTHY OF BEING ASSOCIATES OF GOD, THEY TASTE His Flesh and drink His Blood, and by means of the sanctified bread and wine BECOME ONE Body and Blood with God Who was incarnate and offered Himself as a sacrifice. After this, it is no longer possible THAT SIN SHOULD REIGN AND TYRANIZE OVER THEM, FOR THEY ARE gods by Grace…
"Thus God, Who is incomparably Higher than the visible and invisible creation, accepted human nature, which is higher tan the whole visible creation, and offered it a sacrifice to His God and Father… Honoring the sacrifice, the Father could not leave it in the hands of death. Therefore, He annihilated His sentence and RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD FIRST OF ALL AND AT THE BEGINNING Him Who had given Himself AS A SACRIFICE FOR THE REDEMPTION AND AS A REPLACEMENT FOR MEN WHO ARE OF THE SAME RACE AS Himself and afterward, in the LAST DAY OF THE END OF THIS WORLD, HE WILL RESURRECT ALSO ALL MEN. Moreover, THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, IN THIS GREAT AND FEARFUL SACRIFICE, GOD RESURRECTS IN THE PRESENT LIFE; AND A SIGN OF THIS RESURRECTION IS THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH HE GIVES TO THE SOUL OF EVERY CHRISTIAN, AS IF GIVING A NEW SOUL".
On the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Holy Apostles, when after the speech of the Holy Apostle Peter his listeners asked what they should do, the Holy Apostle Peter said to them: "Repent and BE BAPTIZED EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37-38).
Thy mystical Grace-given aspect of Baptism is indicated in the above-cited passage of the Holy Scripture; BAPTISM IS A "NEW BIRTH," and it is performed for the salvation of men (Mark 16:16). Moreover, setting forth the Grace-given significance of Baptism, the Holy Apostles in their Epistles indicate that in it we are "sanctified," "cleansed," "Justified"; that in Baptism we "die to sin" so as to walk in RENEWD LIFE."
Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes concerning the saving fruits of this Mystery (Sacrament): "There has come another birth, or rebirth, which regenerates man through Holy Baptism by the Holy Spirit, again unites him with the Divine Nature as it was when he was created by the hands of God, restores all the power of his soul, renews them and brings them tot he condition in which they were before the transgression of First-created Adam; in this way, it leads him into the Kingdom of God into which NO ONE UNBAPTIZED CAN ENTER, and enlightens him with its Light and grants him to taste its joys. Thus each one who is baptized becomes again such as Adam was before the transgression, and is led into the noetic Paradise and receives the commandment to work it and keep it–to work it BY FULFILLMENT OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF JESUS CHRIST Who has RECREATED HIM, and to KEEP BY THE KEEPING OF THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH WAS GIVEN TO HIM THROUGH HOLY BAPTISM, CONFESSING THAT THE POWER OF THIS GRACE WHICH DWELLS IN HIM FULFILLS TOGETHER WITH HIM THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST" (First-Created Man, p. 71). [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God