The Manifestation of God.
This is what we’re celebrating today. Just a few little words, loaded well over the safety line.
Theophany is here, and Christ is baptized in the Jordan, by none other than John the Baptizer himself, who–I dare say–has no interest in baptizing the Messiah himself. I imagine he was feeling a bit out of his depth that day. But what? Argue with God? Probably not.
If he had no other talents, John the Baptist was singularly good at listening to God. Wilderness, forsaking all, living an ascetic life of poverty and fasting? Alright. Locusts and Honey? Sounds like three-square. Hair shirt? Might be comfy.
But when Jesus comes striding towards John in the line for baptism, John hesitates. Even the waters are trembling at the approach of the Savior, and John is not a great deal more sure of himself. He’s been waiting for this One—the One whose would baptize not only with water, but with the very Holy Spirit of God—and when He arrives He looks to John. Now there’s a moment for panic. “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
Yep. That’s the plan. Right here, right now, God himself will enter the waters of baptism and fulfill all that John has been preparing for. Right here, right now, the waters of the cosmos—that essential ingredient in all life—will be transfigured and illumined for all. It’s more than John can imagine.
And at that moment, the Trinity is made manifest. Who God Is is revealed. The Father proclaims His Son, and the Spirit in the form of a dove alights upon Him. And all is well.
In the Church today, we celebrate the Baptism, we celebrate the revealing of God to humanity, and we celebrate the Light. The Illumination. The Redemption. The coming of God fully into the world, to assume, to heal. We bless the waters, reminding ourselves that all that we see is holy; all that we see is sacred. No matter how insistent we are upon destruction and Our Own Thing–covering the sacred with layers of the profane, blankets of the inane–the speck of Light is still present, shining forth patiently, waiting for us to seek Him, waiting for us to get out of the way.
A Blessed Theophany,