Bulletin 211 - January 6/January 19, 2003
January 6/January 19, 2003
Feast of Theophany
Abba Poemen said, "As the breath which comes out of his nostrils, so does a man heed humility and the fear of God."
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him and John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?" But Jesus answered and said to him, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Jesus Christ deigned to be baptized by John. How often do we consider the humility shown by Jesus Christ? In a world in which power and influence are held as desirable, how many people look to Jesus Christ for hope, for direction, for example, for salvation?
Worldly idols come and go. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Heb.13:8) Let us look to Jesus Christ. He took on human flesh and dwelt among humans. He went into the Jordan to be baptized, renewing creation.
The Holy Trinity was manifest at the baptism of Jesus Christ. We profess our belief in the Holy Trinity each time we sign ourselves with the Cross. We profess our belief in the Holy Trinity each time we recite the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.
As Orthodox Christians, we have a responsibility to be attentive of our actions, to be sensitive to the daily life of the Holy Orthodox Church. In Kosovo and elsewhere in the world, men, women and children face harm daily for their beliefs as Orthodox Christians.
Our identity changed at Holy Baptism. We emerged from the Baptismal fount with great responsibilities. Our commitment to Jesus Christ at Holy Baptism is a life-long commitment. Each year at Theophany and throughout the year, it is appropriate to review our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ experienced pain and suffering. He experienced death on the Cross. He took upon Himself the sins of the world. The attention we give to Jesus Christ is important. The time we devote to thinking about, learning about and praying to Jesus Christ is important.
Jesus Christ deserves our undivided attention everyday. The Holy Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing (I Thess.5:17). We have room for improvement each day until we reach the standard set by St. Paul.
Blessed Theophylact said Jesus was baptized at the age of thirty because by this age, one has experienced all sins. Blessed Theophylact said in the first ten years of life, one is engaged in foolishness. In the second ten years, the time of adolescence, the flames of desire and anger burn. In the third ten years, the time of adulthood, avarice is very great.
We are not to go to Jesus Christ only in times of emergency. We are not to go to Jesus Christ only when illness or tragedy strikes our lives. We are to go to Jesus Christ daily in prayer and in thanksgiving.
We draw strength from Jesus Christ. We draw nourishment from Jesus Christ. We find purpose and direction in Jesus Christ. Our lives are defined in Jesus Christ.
The whole world is shaped by the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan. The whole world is subject to God. The whole world is in the control of God.
We do well when we review the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. We do well when we think about the Psalm 104 read each day at Vespers. We do well when we read the opening chapters of Genesis.
God is much bigger, much greater than we will ever realize. The goodness of God, the mercy of God is much greater than we will ever realize.
Everyday is an opportunity to thank God. Everyday is a day to live for God. Everyday is a time to return to God.
God is as close as every breathe. God is present in every heartbeat. God is active in every action of the brain, in every movement of our arms and legs. Night and day come with regularity due to God. The seasons change in a very orderly fashion because of God.
We do well to pray that our eyes be opened to God, that our ears be attentive to God. Let us listen carefully for the still small voice, the voice the Holy Prophet Elijah heard (I Kings 19:12). Let us listen for the voice of the Lord speaking to us.
If we pray, if we fast, if we are attentive, we will come to know the expectations of us as Orthodox Christians. We will embrace these expectations with great joy.
There is no greater joy than the joy of Christ. There is no greater fulfillment than the fulfillment coming in Christ. Jesus said: "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (MT.11:29)
The Christ baptized in the Jordan continues to summon believers. As Orthodox Christians, let us ever be faithful in answering Christ's call.