Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
The Feast that we continue today to celebrate is called in Holy Orthodoxy Theophany. In the west, it is referred to as Epiphany. Neither word is one used often in the English language, although epiphany is perhaps used more broadly.
We say Theophany because—well, words have meaning. The word Theophany comes from the Greek theophania, which means “the appearance of God.”
We all know that our Lord didn’t begin His ministry until He was roughly 30 years old. And we know that He was ‘revealed’ at His birth in Bethlehem. The wise men knew of Him. The shepherds were taught by the angels of Him. Herod had His birth proclaimed to him. So why the focus on “appearing” and “revealing”?
At our Lord’s Nativity, the Son of God was revealed to the world. And His presence in the world was not heralded broadly. We’ve already discussed those who knew of His coming. And we know nothing more about His being revealed for the next 30 years, except for His presence in the Temple when He was 12, as He spoke with the Pharisees (Lk 2:40-52).
It is not until today’s Gospel (the Sunday After Theophany, Matthew 4:12-17) that we learn more. In the verses that precede today’s Gospel we find Jesus in the wilderness, being tempted by Satan. Beginning with today’s Gospel, we find our Lord hearing that John the Forerunner had been imprisoned. Note that God the Son obeys His own appointing of His Forerunner, whose “job” was not finished until he was removed from the world. From prison, John will ‘minister’ only to Herod, convicting him of adultery, and ultimately giving his life for the Truth!
St. Matthew then proceeds to teach from the Prophet Isaiah. In today's reference (Isa 9:1-2) he sheds this light upon the Savior:
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
When our Lord came to John in the Jordan, it was not Christ Who was revealed, it was God in Trinity Who was revealed for the first time in all of scripture. We capture this revelation in the Troparion for the Feast:
When You, O Lord, were baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. For the voice of the Father bore witness to You, and called You His beloved Son. And the Spirit, in the form of a Dove, confirmed the truthfulness of His word. O Christ, our God, Who has revealed Yourself, and had enlightened the world, glory to You!
The final Who has revealed Yourself points not to the Son, but rather to Christ as One of the Holy Trinity!
St. Matthew records from this point: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’
These are the very same words that St. Matthew records for the Forerunner:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ (Mat 3:1-2)
Let us heed the words of the Forerunner, and obey the command of our Savior, and repent. The Kingdom of Heaven is here!
Monday, January 3, 2022
[The following is a homily written by St. Proclus, a disciple of St. John Chrysostom. It is offered in this week of our Lord's Theophany for the edification of all. FrB]
Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it luster and joy. He bore the world’s sins and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles.
For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Savior, and the whole world is filled with joy.
Today’s feast of the Theophany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.
On the feast of the Savior’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast of the Theophany it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.
At Christmas we saw a weak baby, giving proof of our weakness.
In today’s feast, we see a perfect man, hinting at the perfect Son who proceeds from the all-perfect Father.
At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; at Theophany the very source enfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.
Come then and see new and astounding miracles: the Sun of righteousness washing in the Jordan, fire immersed in water, God sanctified by the ministry of man.
Today every creature shouts in resounding song:
Blessed is he who comes in every age, for this is not his first coming. And who is he? Tell us more clearly, I beg you, blessed David:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
The Lord is God and has shone upon us. (Ps 118:27)
David is not alone in prophesying this; the apostle Paul adds his own witness, saying:
The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all men, and instructing us. (Titus 2:11)
Not for some men, but for all. To Jews and Greeks alike God bestows salvation through baptism, offering baptism as a common grace for all.
Come, consider this new and wonderful deluge, greater and more important than the flood of Noah’s day. Then the water of the flood destroyed the human race, but now the water of Baptism has recalled the dead to life by the power of the one who baptized.
In the days of the flood the dove with an olive branch in its beak foreshadowed the fragrance of the good odor of Christ the Lord; now the Holy Spirit, coming in the likeness of a dove reveals the Lord of mercy.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!