The Epiphany of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
by Saint Nicholai of Ochrid, Zicha and All-America
When our Lord reached thirty years from His physical birth, He began His teaching and salvific work. He Himself signified this “beginning of the beginning” by His Baptism in the Jordan River. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: “The beginning of the world is water; the beginning of the Gospel is the Jordan.” At the time of the Baptism of the Lord in water, the mystery was declared to the world—the mystery that was prophesied in the Old Testament; the mystery that was known only in fables in ancient Egypt and India—the mystery of the Divine Holy Trinity. The Father was revealed to the sense of hearing, the Spirit was revealed to the sense of sight, and the Son was revealed to the sense of touch. The Father uttered His witness about the Son, the Son was baptized in the water, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered above the water. When John the Baptist bore witness to Christ, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and when John immersed and baptized the Lord in the Jordan, the mission of Christ in the world and the path of our salvation were shown. That is to say, the Lord took upon Himself the sins of mankind and died under them (immersion) and rose again (the coming out of the water); and we must die to the old sinful man and rise again as cleansed, renewed and regenerated. This is the Savior and this is the path of salvation. The Feast of the Theophany is also called the Feast of Illumination. The event in the Jordan River illuminates us by manifesting God to us as Trinity, consubstantial and undivided. That is one way that we are illumined. And the second way is that every one of us through baptism in water is illumined, in that we become adopted by the Father of Lights through the merits of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Trinity
O Holy Lord, holy in creating:
All that Thou makest by Thy Word, Thou dost consecrate by the Spirit.
O Mighty Lord, mighty in suffering:
For the sake of the world Thou goest to Thy death; for the sake of the world Thou dost resurrect.
O Immortal Lord, with our voices we hymn Thee:
Father, Son, Holy Spirit—God, have mercy on us!
The Father, Who appeared over the Jordan as a Voice;
The Spirit, Who hovered as a milk-white Dove;
The Son, Who by the Prophet John was baptized:
Three rays of Light, one Light shone.
O Trinity manifested, with our voices we hymn Thee:
Father, Son, Holy Spirit—God, have mercy on us!
On the mystery of the Divine Trinity
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit and the water and the blood: and these three are together (I John 5:7-8).
When we read Holy Scripture, we should be alert to keep an eye on every word. To the rapid reader, for example, this distinction which the Evangelist draws between the Heavenly Trinity and the earthly trinity will not become apparent. Concerning the Heavenly Trinity, he says, and these three are one; and concerning the earthly trinity, he says, and these three are together. There is an enormous difference between “being one” and “being together.” The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are One, whereas the spirit, the water and the blood are only together and are not one. Even enemies could be together, but are not one. All the people on earth are together, but they are not one. Water and blood constitute the body, and the spirit is the spirit. For the flesh has desires against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh (Galatians 5:17). They are not one, but they are still together. When man dies, the union is broken and ceases to exist. Blood and water go to one side, and the spirit goes to another side. However, the Persons of the Divine Trinity in the heavens are not only together, but They are also One.
There is also another trinity in the inner heaven of man which should be not only a unity but a oneness, so that man may be blessed in this world and in the other world. That is the union of the mind, heart and will. As long as these three are only in togetherness, man will be at war with himself and with the Heavenly Trinity. However, when these three become one, so that none rules and none is enslaved, then man becomes filled with the peace of God, which passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7), that surpasses man’s every word, every explanation, every fear and every sorrow. Then the small heaven in man begins to resemble that great heaven of God, and the “image and likeness of God” become apparent in man.
O Triune God, help us to at least resemble those who resemble Thee.To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen