Thursday, January 06, 2011


I usually post something on this blog in observance of the Feast of the Theophany (or Epiphany) of the Lord, widely celebrated on this date, and this year will be no exception. I have previously written about commonalities and differences in Eastern and Western views of this feast, so I invite interested readers to consult my Theophany posts from 2009 and 2010 if they would like to read more on that.

Rather than repeat what I've written before, I'd like to share part of a Theophany sermon by the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, who discusses the place of Christ's baptism within salvation history and considers how the act of divine self-manifestation commemorated today offers an example we can follow:
Christ did not need cleansing. But these waters, into which all the sinners who had come to John the Baptist confessing the evil of their lives had washed themselves, were as it were heavy with the sinfulness and therefore the mortality of mankind. They had become waters of death, and it is in these waters that the Lord Jesus Christ merges Himself on that day, taking upon Himself the mortality resulting from the sin of man.

He comes, immortal in His humanity and His divinity, and at the same time He vests Himself with the mortality of the sinful world. This is the beginning of the way to Calvary. This is a day when we marvel at the infinite love of God. But as on every other occasion, man had to participate completely in the ways of salvation which God had provided. And this is why Christ comes and becomes partaker of our mortality, to save us. The culminating point will come on Calvary when He will say, 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?' It will be a moment when God as He was in His humanity will have lost communion with the Father by partaking of the destiny of mankind. This is the ultimate act of divine love.

Let us therefore today wonder and marvel, and worship this love of God, and learn from Him; because He said in the Gospel, 'I have given you an example. Follow it.' We are called, within the limits of our sinfulness and humanity, to carry one another's burdens, unto life and unto death. Let us learn from this. We find it so difficult to carry the burdens even of those whom we love; and practically impossible to shoulder the burdens of those whom we do not love with a natural, direct tenderness. Let us learn, because otherwise we will not have learned the first lesson which Christ gives us when He enters upon His ministry.
To complete this year's Theophany post, here is a video showing parts of the Blessing of Waters held in observance of this feast in Byzantine churches. This video comes from St. Elias Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario (a parish which actually does not celebrate Theophany on this date; following the Julian Calendar, St. Elias will mark Theophany on January 19th).

The words of the Festal Troparion sung during the Blessing of Waters and the other services of Theophany are given below:

When you were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord,
the worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
For the voice of the Father bore witness to You
by calling you His beloved Son.
And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
confirmed the truth of His Word.
O Christ our God,
You have appeared to us
and enlightened the world.
Glory to You!

My prayerful best wishes to all who today celebrate Christ's divine manifestation in our midst. May the blessings of this great feast remain with us throughout the coming year! AMDG.


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