By: + Father Andrew Mahalares
January 6th, Epiphany, or Theophany is— after Easter and Pentecost— the greatest feast of the Orthodox Church.
It is even greater than the feast of the Nativity of Christ. It commemorates the baptism of our Lord by John in the water of the Jordan and, more generally, the public manifestation of the Incarnate Word to the world.
Christian Baptism has washed and purified us. It has abolished original sin in us and made a new creature of us.
Epiphany is, above all, the feast of Baptism, not only of Jesus’ Baptism, but also of our own. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to renew in spirit the Baptism that we received, and to revive the grace which was conferred on us. For the sacramental graces, even if interrupted and suspended by sin, can become alive in us again, if we turn sincerely to God.
]At this feast of Epiphany, let us ask God to wash us again— spiritually, not actually— in the water of Baptism; let us drown the old, the sinful, creature in them, for Baptism is a mystical death; let us cross the Red Sea which separates captivity from freedom and let us immerse ourselves with Jesus in the Jordan to be washed not by the Precursor, but by Jesus himself.
Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon the water.
Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord.
Today the transgressions of men are washed away by the waters of the Jordan.
Today Paradise has been opened and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us.
Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God.
Today the Master hastens toward baptism that He may lift man up to the heights.
Today the Master buries in the waters the sin of mortal man.
Today the Master receives testimony from on high, that He is the beloved Son.
Today the Master comes to sanctify the nature of the waters.