Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6 The Theophany in the Eastern Church- the Holy Trinity and the Divinity of Christ Revealed

In the Western Church, today is the Epiphany, but in the Eastern Church, it is the Theophany. Both Feasts have to do with the revelation of Christ's Divinity.  The reading from Titus 2.13 was considered by the Church Fathers a landmark statement of the divinity of Christ.

The Theophany marks the occasion of Christ's Baptism in the Jordan, when the Holy Trinity was revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father's voice is heard from heaven, the Son is baptized in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit alights on him. Christ shares our humanity and so is baptized in solidarity with us.

St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches that by His baptism, Christ sanctifies water (Ign. Eph. 18), and water therefore becomes the means of our salvation (see 1 Peter 3.21). Baptism is mentioned in the passage from Titus as the "washing of regeneration (Titus 3.5)."

The Orthodox Church teaches that what is assumed is deified, and that when Christ was baptized, He re-created the whole Cosmos. Saint Gregory of Nyssa  says, “Jesus enters the filthy [sinful] waters of the world and when He comes out, brings up [purifies] the entire world with Him.”

Christians should have a green ethic and honor Creation, because Christ has sanctified it and made it holy. Christians should be concerned about climate change and pollution, if we seek to honor God and His Creation.


At your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, worship of the Trinity was revealed;
 for the Father's voice bore witness to you, calling you his beloved Son,
 and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words.
 O Christ God, you appeared and enlightened the world. Glory to you!

Titus 2:11-14, 3.4-7, New King James Version (NKJV)
Trained by Saving Grace
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,  13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,  14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,  5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,  6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Matthew 3:13-17New King James Version (NKJV)
John Baptizes Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.  14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[a] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.  17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

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