Holy Theophany – Illumination of God upon us

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, Christ is baptized, in the Jordan! And what an illuminating reminder to the Light He brought us, and the illumination of all of us of the Most Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Rejoice for we are gladfully reminded of this Holy Mystery of the Theophany of our Christ and Lord, till the ages of the ages.

The word “Theophany” is derived from the Greek “Theophaneia” – the appearance of God to man. And God has appeared to man many times throughout Holy Scripture, such as the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah 6:1-13, Psalm 18:6-19, etc. God shows Himself to man continuously throughout human history, even today, this second. However, many of His appearances to us are subtle, unlike some of His appearances in Holy Scripture.

We rejoice when our beloved Lord Jesus Christ was born, and we celebrate the feast of His Holy Nativity. And yet we remember how quietly God came to us in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then when Christ our Lord was baptized by Saint John the Forerunner in the Jordan, the heavens open, and God the Father thundered, “You are my beloved Son, whom I am well pleased” and the Holy Spirit of the Trinity descended as the Dove upon Christ our Lord, as we reflect on St Mark 1:1-11. This is again, a none-too-subtle Theophany that was meant to be compellingly significant, as it also marked the beginning of the Ministry of Christ made known to us, whereby Lord Jesus Christ being the Son of God, sanctified the waters. That is why, on Theophany, there is the Mega Agiasmos (Great Blessing of the Waters) by the priest.

The Theophany is also a timely reminder to us, especially whenever we enter the Church, attend Divine Liturgy, before and after meals, encounter challenges or even calamities, to call on the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and make the Sign of the Cross. The simplest prayers, including the Sign of the Cross said with the Holy Trinity, is an affirmation of our Christian faith that sets us on the pilgrimage to God through Christ our Lord. This is a Divine gift, the gift of Holy Baptism and Chrismation, Mysteries as much as the Theophany of Christ. We do not understand this Mystery of faith, and we simply accept the mighty and incredible gifts of mercy from God through our repentant prayers, and our hope in Him who cradles us in perpetual Mercy and Love.

Saint Macarius the Great (Abba Macarius) was asked, “How should one pray?” The old man said, “There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.’ And if the conflict grows fiercer say, ‘Lord, help!’ He knows very well what we need and he shows us his mercy.”

Recently, a humble laborer of Christ recently visited the supermarket with his matushka. When they were browsing at the bakery section, his matushka collapsed on the floor with eyes rolled and in spasm. The priest knelt beside his matushka, now cold and unconscious, and prayed fervently and silently, “Lord have mercy!” An old man came and offered to alert the supermarket manager. Soon the manager and his assistant came, tended to the matushka with care, and after some rest, woke and later on, was able to leave the supermarket with the priest safely.

The Lord truly hears our prayers, when we humble ourselves with simple honest prayers unto Him. Remember the Most Holy Name of our Christ and Lord, as we move about in life in our roles and tasks, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Isaiah 6:1-13
Psalm 18:6-19 (LXX 17)
St Matthew 3:13-17
Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-7