Friday, January 2, 2015

The Baptism Of Our Lord Jesus Christ (January 6)

On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, a Christian is transported by his thoughts and feelings to a time long since passed. He directs his attention to that which was accomplished at the Jordan, and his heart is filled with reverent trembling. A Christian contemplates Heaven opening over the Jordan and the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus Christ in the form of a dove. He hears the very voice of the Heavenly Father: “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3: 17). These unusual manifestations leave a profound impression in the heart of a believing Christian, evoking in it wonder and piety. From the depths of his enraptured heart the Christian involuntarily cries out: “Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works, and there is no word which suffices to hymn Thy wonders.”
On the feast of the Lord’s Baptism, a Christian meditates on the reason our Lord Jesus Christ, born without sin and not having sinned during His earthly life, should come to Jordan together with sinners in order to receive Baptism from John. The Christian calls to mind the sinful Fall of his forefathers; their punishment by the Lord God, required by God’s justice. He meditates on the sundering of man’s bond with his Creator and upon God’s merciful promise not to leave man without care. The Lord placed enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of mankind (Gen. 3: 15). The Lord promised even our forefathers that a time will come when his descendants shall crush the head of the Serpent-tempter. The Old Testament tree of life shall be replaced by the New Testament Body and Blood of the Only-Begotten Son of God, Who shall come to earth to save the world. “He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”  -  thus speaks Jesus Christ Himself (John 6:54). Because of this it was necessary that man again recognize his Creator and Savior. It was needful to strengthen man’s faith in his Savior. It was necessary for people to learn that the Father and Son, according to the word of Jesus Christ, are one: “The Father is in Me and I am in the Father” (John 10:38). And now our Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to the world. He comes to the Jordan to receive Baptism from John. During the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove, while the Heavenly Father witnesses to Him with the words: “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” There was a true Theophany at the Jordan! Here also at the Jordan it became clear to John the Baptist Who it was that had come to him to be Baptized from Nazareth in Galilee. “I myself did not know Him.” John said later, “but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me. ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John l:33-34). The next day, looking at Jesus as He walked, John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35-36).
Pride was the source of the sin of our forefathers, for they desired to become like their Creator, “like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Our Lord Jesus Christ, accepting baptism from His creature, shows an example of great humility.  He, ‘‘though He was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Christ the Savior turns to John the Baptist not as God but as a humble Man asking baptism in order to fulfill ‘‘all truth.’’ Thus is pride overthrown by humility. “Jesus, when he began His ministry, was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).  Before His entry into the public ministry of mankind’s salvation, Christ the Savior comes to Jordan and receives baptism from John. As Man, in this sacred act He strengthens His powers by the grace of the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. . . At the age of thirty the God-Man reveals Himself to the people, fulfilling by this act the custom of the Talmud-nourished Hebrew people who, especially after the return from Babylonian captivity, strictly kept the letter of the Law. According to the understanding of the Hebrews of that time, a man who had not reached thirty years could be neither a priest nor a teacher. And the Lord Jesus Christ, who came not to destroy but to fulfill the Old Testament Law, begins to preach at the age of thirty. It was at this age also that John the Baptist appeared at the Jordan with the call for people to repent.

The Great Blessing of Water

The rite of the Great Blessing of Water is celebrated in the Ukrainian Catholic Church after the vesperal divine liturgy on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany [Theophany], and after the Eucharistic liturgy on the day itself. It begins with the chanting of special hymns with the incensing of the water, and concludes with bible readings, petitions and prayers. 
You came, O Lord, taking the form of a servant, Asking for baptism though you have no sin. The waters saw You and were afraid. The Forerunner began to tremble and cried out, saying: How shall the lamp-stand illumine the Light? How shall the servant lay hands upon the Master? Sanctify both me and the waters, O Savior, Who takes away the sins of the world.
That He might sanctify both me and the waters... Let us then draw water in gladness, O brothers, 
For upon those that draw in faith The grace of the Spirit is invisibly bestowed by Christ  The God and Savior of our souls.
Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, The Jordan bursts forth and turns back the flood of its streams, Seeing the Master wash Himself. To the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, 

God has sent His only-begotten Son "not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (Jn 3:17) He has sent the Lord Jesus Christ not only to save people's souls, but to save their bodies, and not only to save human beings, but to save the entire creation.

You are great, O Lord, and Your works are wondrous, and there are no words capable of hymning Your wonders... For of Your own will You brought all things in to being from nothing, by Your power You uphold the whole of creation, and by Your providence You order the world... The sun sings to You, the moon glorifies You, the stars meet together before Your face, the light obeys You, the deeps shudder before You, the water springs serve You... We confess Your grace, we proclaim Your mercy, we conceal not Your gracious acts: You have set free our mortal nature. By Your birth You have sanctified the Virgin's womb. All creation sings praises to You Who have revealed Yourself. For You, our God, have appeared upon earth and have dwelled among men. You have sanctified the Jordan streams... Therefore, O Master, be present here now by the descent of the Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. Give it the blessing of Jordan. Make it a fountain of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, a protection against disease, a destruction of demons... and may it be for those who will partake of it, to the cleansing of their souls and bodies, to the healing of their passions, to the sanctification of their homes, to every expedient purpose...

Since the Son of God has taken human flesh and has appeared in the world, manifesting Himself in His baptism in the Jordan, all flesh and all matter is sanctified. Everything is made pure and holy in Him. Everything which is corrupted and polluted by the sinful works of men is cleansed and purified by the gracious works of God. All death-dealing powers of the devil which poison the good world of God's creation are destroyed. All things are again made new. 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 who "in the beginning... was moving over the face of the waters." (Gen 1:2)

Come, O ye faithful, Let us praise the greatness of God's dispensation toward us, For He who became Man because of our transgressions  And who alone is clean and undefiled, Was for our cleansing Himself cleansed in the Jordan 


The Forerunner beheld our Enlightenment, Who has brought light to all mankind, draw near for baptism: and he rejoiced in soul while his hand trembled. And he showed Him to the people, saying: “Behold, the Redeemer of Israel, Who sets us free from corruption.” O sinless Christ our God, glory to You.

The hosts of angels were filled with fear, as they saw our Deliverer baptized by a servant and receiving witness through the coming of the Spirit. And the Father’s voice was heard from on high: “He upon Whom the Forerunner lays his hand, the same is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” O Christ our God, glory to You.

The streams of the Jordan received You Who are the fountain, and the Comforter descended in the form of a dove.
He Who bowed the heavens, bowed His head, and the clay cried aloud to Him that formed him: “Why do You command of me what lies beyond my power? For I have need to be baptized of You.” O sinless Christ our God, glory to You.
Wishing to save man gone astray, You have not disdained to clothe Yourself in the form of a servant. For it befitted You, as Master and God, to take upon Yourself our nature for our sakes. For You, O Deliverer, have been baptized in the flesh, making us worthy of forgiveness. Therefore, we cry to You: “O Christ our God and Benefactor, glory to You.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.