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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Living Faith

God is Green! Come celebrate all of God's creations during March Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters," Genesis 1:1-2. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - God created the earth we ... continue reading


What Does the Lord Jesus Mean When He Calls us to Be Perfect? Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The character of Jesus Christ is being formed in each one of us as we say yes - and choose to cooperate with the Lord who is making us new, every day.  Perhaps our problem is rooted in understanding - and responding - to this call to be perfect. Perhaps it is ... continue reading


Making a Lenten Retreat with Pope Francis: Learning from Elijah Watch

Image of There is a mystery here, deep and profound, yet as simple as the broom tree encounter of our teacher Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him in this hour. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up - and give in - to Him. When we do, the life of true faith begins. It is there we learn to hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind. It is there that we learn the Faith of Elijah, under the broom tree.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In many respects, our life on this earth is a classroom of love and a continual invitation to holiness. As we age, we are given the opportunities we need to receive the graces we need to empty ourselves of all that clutters up our life - so that we can be free to ... continue reading


ISIS is not the first to persecute Christians, a look at the Roman persecutions of the early Church (PART ONE) Watch

Image of St. James the Greater, one of the first Christian martyrs.

By Robert Mullen (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is a sad and disheartening fact that many Christians suffer from constant-and often brutal-persecution today, most visibly in places like the Middle East where the Islamic State rules, or in Asian nations like India or China where Christianity is a ... continue reading


Vatican deeply apologizes for Pope Francis' Argentina 'Mexicanization' comment Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis did not mean any offense - but in a private email about his native land Argentina's drug trafficking issues, the pope expressed concern over Argentina's "Mexicanization." The Vatican is now trying to clarify and apologize to any parties that may ... continue reading


UPDATE: Two years after resignation Pope Emeritus Benedict said to be doing well Watch

Image of Pope Emeritus Benedict is said to be in better health since his resignation.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With Pope Francis in the spotlight, many wonder what is happening with Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is keeping true to his pledge to remain out of the public eye. For the curious, we have good news, Pope Emeritus Benedict is doing well, if not even better than before. ... continue reading


Beating swords into plowshares

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills," writes the prophet Isaiah. "Many peoples shall come and say: Come, let us go up to the Lord's mountain . that he may instruct us in his ... continue reading


Andrew M. Greenwell: St. Bonaventure on Counsel Watch

Image of

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

In Bonaventure's analysis of this gift of counsel, there are three steps to sound counsel, which we may also call distinctions.  Counsel relates to whether something is permitted, and, if permitted, whether it is appropriate, and, if permitted and ... continue reading


Pope Francis wants you to pray to end Christian persecution. But will Catholics answer him?

Image of Christians face more than the Islamic State. Destitute, they lack sanitation, privacy, food and water, and their spiritual end educational needs aren't being met. A tremendous effort will be needed to restore these people. Let us pray.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With the mass kidnapping of over 100 Christians in Syria, it has become painfully clear that the Islamic State thinks nothing of targeting innocent civilians and children, threatening, enslaving and murdering anyone whose faith is different. We need now, more than ... continue reading


Saint Gregory of Narek to become 36 Doctor of the Church Watch

Image of An image of Saint Gregory of Narek on an illuminated manuscript.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Armenian monk and poet from the 10th-century has been named a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope Francis, an announcement which may be timed coming so close before the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, in which over a million Armenians were ... 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, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
8 Do not count against us the guilt of former ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
13 And we, your people, the flock that you pasture, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:36-38
36 'Be compassionate just as your Father is ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 2nd, 2015 Image

Bl. Charles the Good
March 2: In 1086, St. Canute, King of Denmark and father of Blessed ... 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