Homily on Theophany by St. Luke of Simferopol
The Gospel reading of Theophany provides a word of Christ of great importance. And on this I wish now to turn your attention for a bit.
This great event of the Theophany of the Lord was preceded by the preaching on the banks of the Jordan River by John, the Forerunner of the Lord, the greatest among those born of women. His fiery preaching of repentance, for which he prepared beforehand for twenty years in the desert of Judea, attracted to him a great multitude of people. The fiery word of his preaching set ablaze the hearts of men, whom he baptized in the waters of the Jordan to purify their sins.
But on that great day, to his great astonishment, among the others who were coming to be baptized was Him Who he had never seen, but was Him Whom he revealed would come to baptize him with the Holy Spirit. And having fallen at His feet, he told Him with reverence: "I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me?" (Matthew 3:14)
We, hope are truly baptized by the Holy Spirit and fire, could not understand why the sinless Son of God went to His servant John and asked to be baptized by him with the baptism of repentance, in order for Him to be loosened from sins that He did not possess, if Christ had not responded to the question of the Forerunner in this way: "Let it be so, for thus we will fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:15)
O, our Lord! We venerate You and Your Forerunner, and we thank You from the depths of our hearts for teaching us to respect and honor "all righteousness", and to hate any type of injustice, for this comes from the devil. Every righteousness, even the most insignificant righteous act, is blessed by God. You received baptism from John in the Jordan River for the remission of sins, because You wished to fulfill whatever was seen beforehand in the plan of God. The descent into the waters of the Jordan served as a seal of repentance for those who were coming to be baptized. For repentance from one's whole heart in those who received the baptism of John, received from God remission of their sins...
Therefore, the baptism of John was righteous. Our Savior was not speaking only about this righteousness to John, however, in order to silence him and to answer his question, but He was speaking about every righteousness, in other words, regarding the plan of God. With His Divine Word, He sanctified and blessed every truth and simultaneously condemned every injustice.
Think, my beloved, people of the spirit as myself, communicants of the little flock of Christ, how much injustice exists in the word! What a great sin is war, when the faithful, and especially Christian people kill each other! If the murder even of one person is punished by death in many peoples, then, how much will our Lord punish those who have led the murder of tens of millions of people?! Any sin is injustice, and war is the greatest injustice, which we all must despise...
The Baptism of our Lord has for us an exalted meaning as well, for we have the revelation of the Holy Trinity. At the instant when the Lord stood up from the water, from Heaven was heard the voice of God the Father, Which bore witness to the Son, saying: "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased." (Matthew 3:17) And the Holy Spirit "in the form of a dove", descended from Heaven upon the head of the Pre-eternal Son of God. This Theophany has great importance, as it is also called besides the Baptism of the Lord. He Himself, the tri-hypostatic God, revealed the divinity of His Second Person, of the incarnate Word of God. God--Father and Holy Spirit as well--were revealed as well to mankind together with the Savior of the race of men...
O, Son of God! O, our Savior, Lord Jesus Christ! To Your works of love, to Your countless wonders, please do another wonder: draw close with Your right hand to my stony heart and turn it to a "heart of flesh". Amen.
-From the Words and Homilies of St. Luke of Simferopol, Vol. II., Published by Orthodox Kypseli
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