6 January: Theophany (Epiphany): the Baptism of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Message from His Eminence Metropolitan Archbishop Paul Saliba - 

    
The celebration of the Epiphany resembles the festival of our Lords Nativity. In His Baptism; He inaugurated the prefeast celebration of five days. The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “appearance”.

Jesus went to the Jordan River where John the Baptist was teaching and baptizing and there He appeared to the world and manifested Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God one of the Holy Trinity.

The Lord’s public appearance takes place at His Baptism for good reason: Baptism is the symbol of death and resurrection; He came to our world to die and resurrect, Baptism is symbol of repentance of sin and its forgiveness, Baptism is a symbol of sanctification. Jesus came to sanctify the whole world. Finally, Baptism is a symbol of radical renewal. Through Baptism, the old is over and the new has come. Jesus appeared on our earth to make every thing new. The act of Baptism therefore contains in symbol the entire mystery of Christ the whole Purpose of His coming.

Christ did not need to be baptized for Himself. This is made clear in the gospels. He had to be baptized for our sake in order “to fulfil all righteousness” (Mt.3:15).

The Baptism of John was a “Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sim”. The people came to john for baptism “confessing their sin”
(Mt.1:4-5).

The Lord had no sin. He was God in human flesh. His Baptism therefore manifests His complete identification with his sinful creatures.
He literally becomes one of us, in only in our humanity, but not in our sinfulness’, not only in our life on earth but also in our death. St.Paul wrote in “Corinthians”: For our sake He (God the Father) made Him to
be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”.

In the Church “celebration of the Lord’s Epiphany, the faithful are enabled to see Jesus make life their in every aspect in order to bring us back to our original situation.

Jesus Baptism in the Jordan therefore contains all the mysteries of our salvation; It is also the first manifestation to the world of the greatest mystery of all; the worship of the Holy Trinity.

In His baptism, the mystery of all mysteries is clearly revealed to the world for the first time, it is the open revelation hinted first dimly in previous covenants that the one True God is essentially a Father.

With the manifestation revealed God’s Son as Jesus Christ the savior of the world; and God’s Holy Spirit as a unique person. He is the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26).

This is the unique doctrine of Orthodoxy: the worship of the Divine Trinity “one in essence and undivided. On this day we celebrate the service of the Great Blessing of Water which itself reveals the action’s meaning for the Christians, The readings are messianic from prophet Isaiah.

Thus says the Lord the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose…

God has sent His only-Begotten son “not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him!! (John 3:17)

Since the Son of God has taken human flesh and has appeared in the world manifesting Himself in His Baptism, all flesh and all Matters is sanctified through the “Prime element” of water on the feast of the Epiphany, the entire creation is shown to be sanctified by God’s Word through the same Spirit of God: “in the beginning… was moving over the face of the waters “(Gen. 1:2)


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