Κυριακή, 7 Ιανουαρίου 2018

“Theophany”, a manifestation of God to the world


Theophany 2018 in the Orthodox Diocese of Rwanda & Burundi (from here)

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia and Malawi

The Feast of the Holy Theophany (Epiphany) of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on January 6. The Feast commemorates the Baptism of Christ and the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity. At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were made manifest. Thus, the name of the Feast is Epiphany, meaning manifestation, or Theophany, meaning manifestation of God.
The Biblical story of the Baptism of Christ is recorded in all four of the Gospels: Matthew 3, Mark 1:1-9, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:31-34.

St John the the Baptist, from Bunia (DRC)
John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and the one chosen by God to proclaim His coming, was preaching in the wilderness and was baptizing all who would respond to his message calling for repentance. As he was doing this, John was directing the people toward the one who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. Initially, John would not do this, saying that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus said to John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness (3:15). John consented and baptized Jesus.
When Jesus came up from the water, the heavens opened suddenly, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. The Bible records that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on him. When this happened, a voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” This was the voice of God the Father.
Christ’s baptism in the Jordan was “theophany,” a manifestation of God to the world, because it was the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry. It was also a “theophany” in that the world was granted a revelation of the Holy Trinity. All three Persons were made manifest together: the Father testified from on high to the divine Sonship of Jesus; the Son received His Father’s testimony; and the Spirit was seen in the form of a dove, descending from the Father and resting upon the Son.
The theme of “manifestation” or “revelation” is also expressed in Scripture with the symbolism of light. In the hymn of the Feast we sing, “Christ has appeared and enlightened the world.” Thus, January 6 is also known as the Feast of Lights. The Church celebrates on this day the illumination of the world by the light of Christ.


The Gospel of Theophany (from here)

Matthew 3:13-17


13 Then came Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John to be baptized by him.
14 But John forbad Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by Thee, and comest Thou to me?”
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John suffered Him.
16 And Jesus, when He had been baptized, went up straightway out of the water. And lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him.
17 And lo, a voice came from Heaven, saying, “This Is My Beloved Son, In Whom I Am Well Pleased.”


The Gospel of the Feast of st Jonh the Forerunner (January 7), from here

 Icon from here. About the wings, see here
John 1:29-34
 
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world!

30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me cometh a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’
31 And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore have I come baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore record, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him.
33 And I knew Him not. But He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, ‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the Same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.’
34 And I saw and bore record that this is the Son of God.”

See also 

Theophany – The Waters Were Afraid
Theophany, The Baptism of Jesus Christ - When the Holy Trinity appeared clearly for the first time
God the Holy Trinity: ‘The Lover of Mankind’ (& the "depiction of God" in Orthodox Church)
God in Trinity - A Communion of Persons
The Mystery of the Forerunner
Oxford Historians Find The Bones of St John the Baptist


Theophany 2018 in Ivory Coast (here)

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