Monday, January 6, 2014

Why is Theophany So Important?

There is a HUGE difference between God and human beings. He is the creator and we are His creation. It is impossible for us to understand ANYTHING about Him unless He reveals it to us first. It is IMPOSSIBLE, no way, no how, for us to even believe in Him without Him first revealing Himself to us. It is IN NO WAY conceivable that we, mere creatures, can comprehend the purpose of our existence without the Creator first showing Himself to us.

So why is the Theophany so important for the Orthodox to celebrate? For many Christians, Theophany – also called Epiphany – the arrival of the Magi at Christ’s manger, or merely His Baptism in the Jordan River. But for the Orthodox, Theophany is THE APPEARING OF THE UNDIVIDED TRINITY – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for the first time in human history.
It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mark 1.9-11)
So while we are indeed celebrating the baptism of Jesus, the greater gift of God is His divinity revealed as Trinity to those standing by and those of us who “love His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4.8) In the baptism of Jesus, it wasn’t Jesus that was changed, but the entire creation by His presence in the water. By entering the water, Jesus reveals the love of God for every living thing on Earth.

In the ancient Church, this revelation was welcomed with great joy and many believers were baptized. But since we only believe in one baptism, many faithful sought a new way to express the joy of the news of God’s appearing. Immediately after the consecration of the baptismal waters, and prior to baptizing the new believers, the faithful would drink from the Font to express their participation in the Feast and receive a blessing from God. As the Church practice developed over the centuries, rather than baptisms taking place on this day, the Church established the Great Blessing of the Waters, in which we all are blessed to participate.

Today, throughout the Orthodox Christian world, Churches are celebrating the appearing of God with the Great Blessing of the Waters. Some even celebrate with an event called a “Cross Dive” where young men, and sometimes women, dive into the water to retrieve the Cross of Christ. Let’s face it, when God reveals Himself to His creation, it’s worthy of great celebrations.

May God be blessed!


Mary Bongiorno said...

Theophany is my name day,pray

Fr Athanasios C Haros said...

May God grant you many years Mary.