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2018 Theophany Greeting from His Grace Bishop THOMAS

January 6, 2018
Theophany of our Lord

Beloved in Christ,

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of His word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee. (Troparion of the Holy Theophany)

I greet you on the solemn and joyous feast of the Holy Theophany of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ! As the Nativity revealed Almighty God’s condescension and humility in becoming incarnate, so the Theophany reveals the glory and power of the triune God.

In submitting to the Forerunner John, the Lord Jesus sanctifies the waters of the Jordan and reveals to us the path of salvation. Saint John Maximovitch reminds us,

Today the nature of the waters is sanctified. Today the Son of God is baptized in the waters of the Jordan, having no need Himself of cleansing, but in order to cleanse the sinful human race from defilement. The waters of the Jordan are sanctified, and together with them all the waters of creation, the very nature of water. Water is given power to cleanse not only the body, but also man’s whole soul, and to regenerate the whole man unto a new life through Baptism. Through water all of nature is cleansed, for out of water the world was made, and moisture penetrates everywhere, giving life to everything else in nature. Without moisture neither animals nor plants can live; moisture penetrates into rocks, into every place in the world. The waters are sanctified and through them the whole world, in preparation for renewal and regeneration for God’s eternal Kingdom which is to come.

Today, a miraculous and wonderful event in the history of salvation has occurred. As the Lord Christ transformed the waters of the Jordan by plunging into them, so too we are transformed in the holy waters of baptism. Saint Isaac the Syrian describes the effects of this wondrous transformation,

When someone acquires a will corresponding to the fear of God and to the right way of thinking, then he will soon receive the revelation of what is hidden. Spiritual knowledge is the perception of what is hidden, and in its perception contemplative faith is born, which begins to shine in the soul from the light of grace and which by the testimony of the mind fortifies the heart, lest it waver in the doubtlessness of hope far from every doubt. And this faith is revealed not through increased hearing of the ears, but through spiritual eyes, which see the mysteries hidden in the soul, the invisible and divine wealth, hidden from the eyes of the sons of the flesh and revealed by the Spirit to those who are nourished from Christ’s table, in the study of Christ’s laws, as the Lord said: “If ye keep my commandments (John 15:10)…I will send unto you a Comforter (cf. John 15:26)…the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive (John 14:17)…and He shall teach you all truth” (cf. John 14:26, 16:13).

As we commemorate this mystery of Theophany, may our lives be transformed as miraculously as the river Jordan, so that we may become an acceptable sacrifice unto the Lord. (Romans 12:1)

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic

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