- Fr. Julian brings the blessing of our Lord’s Baptism
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Those who would like me to come and bring the good tidings and the blessing of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ please let me know. You may contact me via cellphone 830-743-2693 or send me an
email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Happy New Year! May God bless you all!
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy New Year!
May God bless you with good health and progress in all your endeavors.
Here are some thoughts on the meaning of the feast of Theophany.
“When the Waters Saw You, God, They were Afraid”
This Sunday is the Feast of the Theophany. Theophany is a Greek word that means “God’s Revelation or Appearance.” This holiday celebrates the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River by the hand of the forerunner and Baptizer John. After Pascha and Pentecost, it is the most important Feast on the Christian calendar. It also concludes the twelve-day celebration of the early life of our Lord. (These are the “Twelve Days of Christmas” that we sing about: Christmas to Epiphany; NOT the twelve days preceeding Christmas!) In His thirtieth year, the Lord comes to the Jordan to receive baptism by John and so inaugurates His earthly ministry. This is Scriptural importance of the Feast we keep. For most of us, we particularly remember this holiday because we bless water and the priest comes to visit and bless our homes.
You might wonder: “How does this work exactly?’ “What does it mean to “save” the water?” We can find a hint in one of the hymns we sing during this Feast. In it we find the Jordan River speaking to us. In answer to the question as to why it stopped its flow when the Lord stepped in to be baptized, the Jordan says, “I am not used to washing him who is clean; I have not learned to bathe the sinless, but to purge the filthy. Christ who is baptized in me teaches me to burn the thorns of sin.” The hymnographer uses a poetic method of giving voice to a force of nature, namely the Jordan. The hymnographer explains to us that water’s nature — to clean that which is filthy — has been finally fulfilled. Because Christ entered the Jordan, water doesn’t clean just our outward dirt, it cleans our inner spiritual dirt as well.
Scripture and theological reflection agree that restoring water’s ultimate purpose was a necessary pre-condition for our own salvation. Our fate and that of the whole of creation are inextricably bound together. There is a deep inter-relatedness. St. Paul reflects on this question in his Letter to the Romans, when he says: “the whole creation has been groaning in travail” (Romans 8:22) waiting for our liberation. Today, we know a great deal more about extent of the effect human activity has on the world around us than did St. Paul. Yet, his fundamental observation was exactly on target: human sin has had a devastating effect on the Creation God entrusted to us. Creation is trapped by our sin. Global warming, the pollution and poisoning of our environment, the exploitation of natural resources — all these are the consequences of our greed and our sin. Water needs a Savior. If we are going to be restored to Grace, it must necessarily be through water.
Christ descends into the waters of the Jordan as a way of restoring the primordial harmony between God and Creation, and between Creation and human beings. It is a powerful sign when we bless the water, asking God to restore it to its original beauty. It is a powerful sign when we take this restored water and drink it, sprinkle it, and use it to restore all of Creation, as our Lord has charged us to do. We are all called by our baptism to restore harmony between Creation and God, between us and the rest of the created order.
A small point that you might want to make note of is that throughout the hymns and prayers of this Feast we hear that the Jordan “stopped its flow.” Of course this is not just poetry. Each of the Gospel accounts clearly say that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. But the intent is to remind us of other Biblical events, such as when Joshua commanded the Ark of the Covenant to be carried over the Jordan and when it touch the water the riverbed became dry (Joshua 4:15ff), or when the prophet Elisha, after the ascent of Elijah in the fiery chariot, parted the Jordan by striking it with Elijah’s mantle (2 Kings 2:13ff).
Finally, we should always remain in awe of our Lord’s humility. The baptism John offered was a baptism of repentance. Can we even attempt to imagine what this means that the God who made all that is descends into the waters of Jordan to receive this washing from the very hand that He created? It is like when at the Mystical Supper the Lord washes the feet of His disciples. Each of us complains at times about some act of servitude that we are forced to endure. Can we imagine the depth of God’s love for us as He descends into the Jordan to take our sins on His shoulders? Here is where we find the meaning of love, self-sacrifice, and yes, salvation through water.