The Theophany of our Lord
A Blessed Theophany!
The fullness, the wealth, the vastness of Orthodox Christianity is in describable. These days we have been witnesses to indescribable mysteries, revelations, manifations, not only of God’s love, compassion, condescension, but of God himself. Every day at matins we exclaim and chant: God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord!
Yes, my dear ones, God does not hide Himself from us. He created us in Him image and likeness precisely so that we can get to know Him and be like unto Him. He placed us in a paradise of delight precisely to dwell with and commune with Him.
As the Divine Scriptures relate, it is not God who hid Himself from man, but after falling into sin, it is man who hides himself for God, for sin cannot bear the presence of holiness.
Thus, this communion was not broken by God, but by man. Even though forwarned that should we sin, we shall die, we choose sin (sin is always a choice). Notice that God did not say that He would kill us, that He would annihilate us; He said that we wiil die. Why? Because sins breaks our communion with God, the Author of Life. Thus Saint Paul simply says: The wages of sin is death.
Yet our good God, the Lover of Mankind, did not forsake us, He immediately promised salvation. We are witness to the fulfillment of this promise. First we witnessed a mystery beyond description: the Son of God, born of the Father before all time, is born of the Virgin, Thus divinity and humanity are united without confusion in the person of Christ Jesus our Lord, perfect God and perfect Man: the God-man, and the communion of God with man is reestablished.
It is in Christ that God makes himself known, manifests Himself unto us. This is done continually during our Lord’s sojourn on earth, yet most perfectly in the feast in which we celebrate: Theophany. In this magnificent and glorious feast we see the Son, submitting himself to Baptism for our sake that sin might be destroyed in the waters (for the Sinless One has no need of baptism), immediately comes out of the waters to the witness of God on High who says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. So we learn a most wonder and beautiful name of God: Father. A father is one who loves, who protects, who provides. It is He who loves us, protects us and provides for us. We also learn that the One baptized is not an ordinary man, but the God-man, Emanuel, God with us, who out of His great love and condescension became like us in every way except for sin, that He might free us from our slavery to sin, death and the tyranny of the devil.
And that is not all. We see how the Spirit of God, in the likeness of a dove, descended upon the Son. This is why He is the Christ - the Anointed One. Who were anointed by the prophets in the Old Covenant? The Kings and High Priests. He is the Messiah, the Anointed of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Great High Priest. The Spirit of God abides in Him and synergizes with Him in all things.
Thus we have a mystery manifested before our very eyes. Why do we call it a mystery when it is manifested before our very eyes? Because we see what is manifested (although few actually see what is manifest, for to see, to perceive, requires a clean heart), yet we do not understand how.
God is manifested as the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God. The Father is God, unoriginaate (He has no origin). The Son is God, as He is begotten of the Father and thus is what the Father is. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, as the Lord Christ himself teaches, so the Spirit is, just like the Son, true God of true God. Let us not ask what the difference between begotten and proceeds is. Things divine are beyond the understanding of us creatures. It is enough for us for it to be revealed unto us as such.
God reveals Himself to us, not only in this world, but unto the ages in His kingdom. Who knows what mysteries will be manifest, which we cannot even imagine in this time and place. St. Paul witnesses that what was revealed to him in the heavens are indescribable and that the riches that await us in heaven are beyond our ability to conceive of.
Yet all of this quickly leads to things more wonderful and glorious: the mystery of the Cross, the jubilation of Pascha, the elation of our Lord’s Ascension to whence He came, and the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Divine and Holy Spirit.
Feast sumptuously, blessed of God.