Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

1/9/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Word descends and begins the re-creation of the universe.

We are invited on this great Feast to live our lives in the "Theophany" of the God who is a Trinitarian communion of Perfect love. The Christian vocation, no matter what our state in life, is to reveal the Love of the Trinity to the entire human race in order to bring them to the Waters of Baptism into New Life in the new humanity of the Church which is Christ's Body. There, joined in Him we participate in His ongoing redemptive mission until He returns to make all things new.

One of a myriad of beautiful Icons on the Eastern Christian churches depiction the 'Theophany' the revelation of the Trinity at the Baptism of the Lord

One of a myriad of beautiful Icons on the Eastern Christian churches depiction the "Theophany" the revelation of the Trinity at the Baptism of the Lord

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/9/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Theophany, Christian living, Prayer, discipleship, Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, breviary, Liturgy of the Hours, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - In the Western Church we end the Christmas season with the Feast of the Lord's "Baptism in the Jordan".This year, through an unusual application of liturgical calendaring, it occurs on the Monday right after the day when Catholics in the U.S. celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany because it was transferred to Sunday.

In some respects, that is unfortunate. Why? because too many will not be able to attend Mass and reflect on the connection of these two great Feasts of the Lord's "Epiphany" - his manifestation or revealing  - and consider their deeper implications in the life of every believer.

Some of the most beautiful readings in the Office of Readings found in the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the whole church. It was formerly called the Breviary and was seen more as the required prayer of all Clergy, Bishops, Priests and deacons, as well as those in the consecrated life. However, since the last Council, this official Prayer of the Church is recommended for all Christians - and understandable so - once one discovers it!

The readings between what is usually a week between the Feast of the Epiphany and the Feast of the baptism of the Lord are profound, touching the deeper meaning of these feasts. Here are a few sentences from an ancient homily given by the Bishop of Constantinople, St. Proclus:

"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 Epiphany 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..."

The last time I excerpted such a beautiful portion from the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, many of my readers asked me to help them to find this wonderful means of prayer. This excerpt and others are available to all of us in the"Liturgy of the Hours" 

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord  marks the beginning of what is called the "public" ministry. of Jesus. He was thirty years old. He died His redemptive death at Golgotha when He was only thirty three.

However, He also spent thirty redemptive years of life in what writers have sometimes called His "hidden years" in Nazareth's school, "growing in wisdom and stature". (Luke 2:52) Those years were not "hidden" in the sense of unimportant. It simply means that we do not find much about them in the Gospel accounts. However, they are rich with meaning, revealing the deeper truths of our faith and its invitation to each one of us who bear the name Christian.

Jesus, Perfect God and Perfect Man, the Incarnate Word, Son of God and Son of Mary, gave the same glory to the Father when he was working with wood in the workshop of Nazareth as he would years later when he raised a friend named Lazarus from the dead. From the moment of His conception, the Son of God recapitulated (to use a favored word of the great Church father, Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons) the entire human experience, re-creating and beginning humanity anew.

During those years, in the hearth of a human family the Son of God sanctified and transformed every aspect of ordinary human life. His redemptive and transforming work began in the first home of the whole human race, His mothers womb. Jesus was a Redeemer in the Womb, beginning His Incarnation as an "Embryonic Person", to use the phrase from the Instruction from the Holy See entitled "On the Dignity of every Human Person". From within the Living tabernacle of the Womb of the All Holy Virgin, He began His redemptive mission.

This child of Mary's was born and heaven touched earth. We commemorated that Holy Nativity just days ago. Some of our brethren in the Eastern Church commemorated it this week. At the breast of his mother, He elevated the already holy wonder and dignity of the vocation of motherhood.

In His sacred humanity he was nurtured, a sign of the beauty of the human experience of love, growth and maturation. He was raised by a human mother and father; and parenting and family life forever took on a deeper meaning in the domestic church of the family. At the bench of Joseph the carpenter; he learned the carpenter's trade and sanctified all human work as a participation in the continuing work of both creation and redemption.

The word "Epiphany" means "manifestation", a making present, a revealing. There is no doubt that even during those so called "hidden" years the plan, purpose and redemptive implications of the entire saving life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were being manifested and revealed.

They reveal how the ordinary becomes "extraordinary" when lived in communion with the Father. The "Baptism of the Lord" is also called the "Theophany", the manifestation of God Himself. Our Gospel at the Liturgy will recount the wondrous revealing of the Holy Trinity. As the Incarnate Word of the Father was immersed in the Waters, the voice of the Father is heard and the Spirit descends. (Mark 1:7-11)

The "Theophany" has inspired extraordinary reflection in the Tradition. Here is another excerpt from an early homily: "Therefore the Lord Jesus came to baptism, and willed to have his body washed with water. Perhaps some one will say: "He who is holy, why did he wish to be baptized?" Pay attention therefore! Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams which he touches.

"For the consecration of Christ is the greater consecration of another element. For when the Savior is washed, then already for our baptism all water is cleansed and the fount purified, that the grace of the laver may be administered to the peoples that come after. Christ therefore takes the lead in baptism, so that Christian peoples may follow after him with confidence." (St. Maximus of Turin, 423 AD)

Yesterday we reflected on the "wise men" from the East who followed the light to the fullness of Divinity who humbled Himself to share in our humanity. From antiquity, the Christian church has pointed to this "Manifestation" in the river of Jordan, this "Epiphany" in the waters, as the event wherein the full plan of God for His Church and the entire creation was manifested or revealed. We are called to become a "manifestation", an "epiphany" of God in a world stumbling along in the darkness of sin. That is what we celebrate today.

The Baptism of Jesus manifests the very life of the Holy Trinity to the whole world and opens the door, through Jesus Christ, into a "communion", a participation in the life of the Trinity through Baptism into His Body, the Church. The waters of the Jordan are sanctified by the Son and now all water is sanctified. Just as the Spirit hovered over the waters of the original creation, the Spirit hovers over the waters where the Son is immersed by John. This is the reason why in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, the clergy often lead the faithful to rivers and entire rivers are blessed!

One of the first elements of creation created by the Father through the Son, is now re-created through the Incarnate Son. The Word Incarnate stands in the waters of the earth which was created through Him. Into these waters, through which the people of Israel were once delivered, the entire human race is now invited to follow Jesus. What was once the means of God's judgment and purification at the time of Noah, fills the Baptismal fount where men and women are delivered from sin and made new!

The Church is given new waters for her saving and sanctifying mission. The Trinity, the Communion of Divine persons in perfect unity, is revealed. In the great liturgical prayer of the East the Church proclaims: "When Thou, O Lord was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest... O Christ our God who has appeared and enlightened the world, Glory to Thee." In his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus is not sanctified for He is without sin, we are capacitated now in Him to become "sons (and daughters) in the Son".

The Theophany also reminds us that all of creation will be redeemed! As Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, creation itself "groans" for that full redemption (Romans 8:28). This belief in the full redemption of creation, of a new heaven and a new earth, is integral to the Christian faith. Christians are NOT anti-matter. We profess in our ancient creed that we will await the resurrection of our bodies and life in a "world to come."

The Feast of the "Theophany", the Baptism in the Jordan celebrates the full salvation and sanctification of all matter as well. The Greek word for "Baptism" means to be immersed. Before it is all over, the entire world will be "immersed" in God and transformed. It will be freed from sin and made new!

Descending into the waters of the Jordan, Jesus, who shares our humanity, makes that living water flow with healing mercy. His Divine Life is now mediated through the Sacraments in the life of the Church which is His Body. The Word descends and begins the re-creation of the universe.

This is an ongoing work which will only be complete when He returns. We who are baptized into Him are called to participate in this ongoing redemptive mission. The public mission and ministry of Jesus began at the waters of Jordan. However, it continues through His Church, of which we are made members through Baptism.

We are invited on this great Feast to live our lives in the "Theophany" of the God who is a Trinitarian communion of Perfect love. The Christian vocation, no matter what our state in life, is to reveal the Love of the Trinity to the entire human race in order to bring them to the Waters of Baptism into New Life in the new humanity of the Church which is Christ's Body. There, joined in Him we participate in His ongoing redemptive mission until He returns to make all things new.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Living Faith

Archbishop reprimands Catholic lawmaker, says no true Catholic can dissent from church teaching on abortion Watch

Image of Archbishop Cordileone said in a written statement, that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in a press conference on January 22 at the Capitol, was asked twice whether an unborn child 20 weeks into pregnancy is a human being. Pelosi finally replied that a woman has "the right" to abort her child. Archbishop ... continue reading


Religious persecution uniting Christians worldwide in 'Ecumenism of blood,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"In this moment of prayer for unity, I would also like to remember our martyrs, the martyrs of today," Pope Francis said as he was speaking to members of a number of Christian Churches. Gathered in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls this past weekend, ... continue reading


Andrew M. Greenwell: Jesus is the Heart and the Marvel of the Gospel Watch

Image of Since the incarnation of the Word, the

By Andrew M. Greenwell

If pursued, and pursued rightly (that is, without moral or intellectual prejudice), metaphysics leads us to a threshold, a threshold we might call the limina fidei, the threshold of faith.  Reason takes us to a place where we know God--that He is.  But ... continue reading


Who Are My Mother and Brothers? We are the Family of Jesus Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Through our Baptism, we are invited into the very family of God. When we choose to respond to grace and live in obedience to the will and the Word of God; we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We actually become a part of ... continue reading


St Francis DeSales Challenges Us to Live a Life of True Devotion Watch

Image of Today in our Liturgical calendar in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we remember St Francis DeSales (1567-1610). The Saints are all given as examples to emulate. They are our companions on the journey, men and women like us who responded to God's invitation to become like Jesus. They pray for us because we are joined with them in the eternal communion of love. They also put legs on the Gospel, showing us what holiness looks like.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of ... continue reading


Hey Main Stream Media - Do Your Job! Media Bias on March for Life Watch

Image of The hundreds of thousands who gatherred in Washington, DC were virtually ignored by the mainstream media because they gave a voice to children in the womb intentionally killed by procured abortion

By Catherine Contreras

What do you get when over 500,000 people attend the March for Life in Washington DC? Yup. A biased main stream media barely covering it, again. OAKLAND, CA (Catholic Online) - On the 42nd Anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in ... continue reading


Arlington Diocesan teachers provide English Language Learners with special support Watch

Image of Fourth-grade students work on personalized language arts activities at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington. (Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald)

By Christine Stoddard, The Arlington Catholic Herald

Step into Sarah Conrad's pre-kindergarten classroom at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington and you'll see the usual suspects: tiny furniture, storybooks, brightly colored posters and educational toys. But you'll also notice that laminated labels abound. ... continue reading


'Self righteousness is not going to change peoples' attitudes and save babies,' Cardinal says Watch

Image of Cardinal Sean O'Malley says that the abortion issue in the United States is a call for those of all faiths to action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In delivering his homily at the March for Life vigil in Washington D.C., Cardinal Sean O'Malley said that indifference is the "greatest enemy" of the pro-life movement, adding that "to change people's hearts we must love them." Speaking at the Basilica of the ... continue reading


Eighth Annual Stand Up 4 Life Rally|Walk in Oakland, California! Watch

Image of Walk for Life in California

By Catherine Contreras

"If Black lives matter, they have to matter in the womb first. Because if Black lives don't matter in the womb, they don't matter anywhere else. So join us and help us speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." - Walter B. Hoye II, Founder and President of ... continue reading


Papal Nuncio to Join Walk for Life West Coast! Watch

Image of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigaṇ

By Catherine Contreras

The Walk for Life West Coast is honored to announce that Archbishop Carlo Maria ViganĂ², the Holy Father's Ambassador to the United States, will be attending the 11th Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, on January 24, 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:11-18
11 Every priest stands at his duties every day, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
1 [Of David Psalm] Yahweh declared to my Lord, 'Take ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:1-20
1 Again he began to teach them by the lakeside, but ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 28th, 2015 Image

St. Thomas Aquinas
January 28: St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church, patron of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter