Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Day of Theophany


Today all came to know Jesus Christ as one with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Today the Holy Trinity is revealed to us without question. "Let us call God to mind."
Saint Gregory the Theologian says,
Since the chief point of the festival is the remembrance of God, let us call God to mind.
But who is God that is revealed this day? It is our Triune God that is revealed. Saint Gregory further explains the nature of our Triune God.
He says,
And when I speak of God you must be illumined at once by one flash of light and by three. Three in Individualities or Hypostases, if any prefer so to call them, or persons, for we will not quarrel about names so long as the syllables amount to the same meaning; but One in respect of the Substance--that is, the Godhead. For they are divided without division, if I may so say; and they are united in division. For the Godhead is one in three, and the three are one, in whim the Godhead is, or to speak more accurately, Who are the Godhead. Excesses and defects we will omit, neither making the Unity a confusion, nor the division a separation.
This festal season is a journey from the Incarnation to the Baptism which is the start of Christ's public ministry when He becomes widely known. The celebration of the Nativity of Jesus is intimately linked with the celebration of Theophany when the God-man was was made known to all as our Savior.
Saint Gregory says,
At His birth we duly kept festival.… With the Star we ran, and with the Magi we worshiped, and with the  Shepherds we were illuminated, and with the Angels we glorified him, and with Simeon we took Him up in our arms, and with Anna the aged and chaste we made our responsive of confession. And thanks be to Him who came to his own in the guise of a stranger, because He glorified the stranger.
Now, we come to another action of Christ, and another mystery. I cannot restrain my pleasure; I am rapt unto God. 
Almost like John I proclaim good tidings... Christ is illumined, let us shine forth with Him. Christ is baptized, let us descend with Him that we may also ascend with Him. Jesus is baptized; but we must attentively consider not only this but somehow other points. Who is He, and by whom is he baptized, and at what time?
He is the all pure; and He is baptized by John; and the time is the beginning of his miracles. What are we to learn and to be taught by this? To purify ourselves first; to be lowly minded; and to preach only in maturity both of spiritual and bodily stature.
This feast shows us an important lesson. Our main task is this task of purification.  Christ purposely began His public ministry with this act of purification before He began His preaching and healing. This is why Christ created the Church and all its sacraments to enable our purification with our Baptism as the starting point.  As we become purified then we too will be able to preach just like Christ and His disciples.  If we try too soon without proper purification we may only mislead. Let's join in the purification through the renewal of our Baptism as we celebrate this Feast of Theophany.  Receive the Holy Waters of purification with repentance and Joy.
Reference: On the Holy Lights - Part 2 by Saint Gregory the Theologian

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