Today Christ is baptised in the Jordan, the Spirit alights on Him in the form of a dove and the Voice of the Father from heaven is heard …. “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”
The first thing that strikes us is how thoroughly Trinitarian the baptism of Christ actually is. The Great Commission to go to all nations, teach and baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit finds its origin here. What is true for Christ by nature becomes true for us as we respond to the divine grace. A baptised Christian is, according to the teaching of the Holy Fathers, “a little Christ.” He or she is imbued with power from on high, the Holy Spirit himself. Our whole life is a preparation for hearing at the Last Day the Voice of the Father applied to each one of us …. “this is my beloved son / daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
However, this transformation of our lives is a goal and only imperfectly our present state. This life is a training ground so that the sons and daughters of God might learn to acquire the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and thus acquiring, recognise and respond to the Voice of the Father. That we might always remember this high calling of the Christian, the Church places before us each year the glorious Feast of the Theophany. It is, for us, a renewal of our baptism, a reconsecration to the calling and ministry that each one of us has been given by virtue of that baptism. Let us recall that, directly after His baptism, our Lord was driven into the desert to do battle with the devil. This will be our calling soon in Great Lent. We, with and in Christ, must be prepared for the work that is set before us. That is why our baptism is so crucial in our Christian lives. By baptism the Holy Trinity cleanses us by water and empowers us by the Holy Spirit. With such forgiveness and strength who can claim that he is not up to the task; that it is too heavy or incomprehensible to him. Is God to be found wanting in His provision for His children? Absolutely not. Is this not rather a weakness in our faith, in our conviction of what God can do through us? Let us then rededicate ourselves to the Blessed Trinity knowing that this triune God will amply provide all that we need to serve.
The Feast of the Theophany is not only about our calling as Christians, however. It is a feast of God’s renewal of Creation as well. St. Paul is keen to stress in his Epistle to the Romans that until Christ, the whole creation laboured in bondage to corruption and death, (Romans 8:21). When the Lord appeared though, the glorious liberty given to the children of God became a freedom from corruption and death bestowed upon all Creation; from the furthest star to the nearest flower. It is vitally important, therefore, to see the world as God sees it, to care for the world as God cares for it. We can do this because baptism has regenerated our spiritual sight. We can see by faith that this world is truly charged with the grandeur and glory of God. The Waters of Theophany have irrigated the whole Cosmos and it now blooms forth for all to see who can see. Baptism has not only made of us “little-Christs” or priests, each one of us; it has also given us a New Creation to seed and care for.
The Christian Church then must have a different vision and standard for Mother Earth than the godless who rape and plunder her for easy gain. God will judge such for their denial of Adam’s calling to tend and care for God’s garden. It’s interesting that the traditional site for Eden, Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent, sits astride the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. The Bible ends with another and New Creation vision when the waters flowing from the Temple of the New Jerusalem will irrigate the whole world and the leaves of the trees by that mighty river will be for the healing of the nations, (Revelation 22:1-2). This, then is the grand vision of the Feast of the Theophany: salvation, not only for us but for the whole Universe! Glory to Him who has shown us the Light! Amen.