|18 Sunday After Theophany, Jan 8, 2012|
Ephesians 4: 7-13
“The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light. And on those sitting in the land and the shadow of death, light has dawned on them.” In the radiant light of Theophany, this prophecy is no longer prophecy. It has become the Gospel, the “Good News", a glorious light from heaven overflowing with joy, piercing the darkness of this worldly life to proclaim the coming of the Light the darkness cannot comprehend. God is with us! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, revealing in its splendor the original beauty, the primordial glory of man created in the Image of God. Christ is the Image of God in whom we were made; and Christ is the Light of the world, the radiance of the glory of the invisible God. And His radiance was the glory of the man and woman created in His Image.
Created in Christ, we were created in light not darkness. Created in Christ, we were created in love, not in anger. Created in Christ, we were created in joy, not in grief. Created in Christ, we were created in goodness. The Light, then, that is seen and that has dawned in our death is Christ, the glory of God, in whose Image we were made.
Having bested the evil one in the wilderness, Christ comes forth calling out: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. He is the King of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand because Christ has become flesh and is among us. The Kingdom of Light is at hand, among us. The Kingdom of Joy is at hand, among us. The Kingdom of Love is at hand, among us. The Kingdom of Life is at hand, among us. He who founded the earth upon the waters is baptized in the waters, and the world is illumined at its foundations in uncreated light. Cleansed at its root from the stench of death, the world is made new, fresh, clean, sparkling like a gurgling mountain stream in the Spirit of Christ. The heavens are opened to us as the Promised Land was opened to the Israelites. Eternal life is ours for the taking as was the fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden. Who we really are and why we exist and all the questions man wants to know in his existential angst are answered, illumined in the radiance of Christ, the Word of God made flesh, born of the blessed Panagia. Look at Christ and behold the glory of God. Look at Christ, and behold the glory of man in the glory of God. Look at Christ, and behold the original beauty of man and the world.
“Repent!” the Savior of all is calling out to us. Turn your mind toward Christ in you! Turn your inner eye toward the Light of God in you! Turn your soul toward the love of God in you! Turn your strength toward the Joy of God in you! Turn your steps toward the Life of God in you! Come out of the darkness and into the Light. Come forth from the tombs and gaze on the crucified and risen Christ, the Lord of Glory, the Resurrection and the Life who became flesh and dwelt among us.
Repent. Come to divine love, you who are thirsty for love. Come out of yourself and come to the compassion of Christ. It is of such tenderness that simply to taste it can break your heart.
Repent. Come to the Resurrection that has destroyed death once and for all. Come to the Joy of God that now calls out to you.
Repent. Take up your Cross. Unite yourself to Christ and crucify the darkness in you. Crucify anger and hatred in you; crucify sadness and despair in you; crucify the death in you.
Repent! Deny yourself and lose your life for the sake of Christ and His Holy Gospel. Lose the life of the world. It is dark. It smells of death. Come and receive the fragrant life of Christ God in you!
In the joy of the feast, repent! Unite yourself to Christ in the fear of God, with faith and love. He is now united to us through the Most Blessed Virgin Panagia. He has illumined the darkness of hell with the radiant splendor of His beauty and goodness. He has rolled away the stone from the tomb of our heart and opened the heavens to us by His Cross. Death He has destroyed by His death. He has washed the stench of our death clean away. Our sins and transgressions He has purged with the fire of His compassion. Our corruptible bodies He has transfigured into incorruptible, bathing them in the splendor of His own radiance. United to Him in love, we are restored to our original beauty. We become radiant in the glory of God, and our souls exude the sweet fragrance of His All-Holy, good and life-creating Spirit.
The light of the world, Christ our Lord, God and Savior has dawned on those in darkness both on earth and in hell. John the Baptist is imprisoned by Herod, the servant of Satan, and beheaded; and He goes to hell to proclaim to those in the region of death as he did to those on earth the coming of the Light and Life of God. In the wilderness and in the tomb, the light of God’s tender and life-creating mercy has appeared. In love, He descends to the lowermost pits of the earth, into the depths of hell, and becomes one with us. In love, He ascends in the glory of His Resurrection and raises to life eternal with Himself all who love His appearing. And so He saves us in His love from the terror of aloneness. He restores those who love Him to fellowship with Himself, and makes them to become partakers of His own divine nature in the fullness of His joy and goodness.
O man, O woman, afraid, hurting, sad. O Christian casual and indifferent to your baptism! Hear the Gospel, the Good News that raised you from darkness to light. God is With Us! God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us. Christ is born in the flesh! Christ is baptized in the Jordan! Christ has destroyed death by His death! The healing of your body and soul is at hand; it is near you; it is in you. The Light of the world, Christ our God, has clothed Himself with our own human nature even to the point of death on the Cross. The joy of God, the power of divine love by which the heavens and earth were created, the Light and Life of God, Christ Jesus is in you! The Light of God, the Light of Life, the Light of Joy and Love and Communion has dawned on us. Repent! Come away from the darkness. Come away from death. Come to the Light, for Christ has appeared on earth in the flesh. God is with us! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The heavens are opened. The path to the Tree of Life is open. The Spirit and His Bride are calling out to us: “Repent! Come you who are thirsty and drink from the waters of life given to all who unite themselves to Christ in love, in the likeness of His death, and who turn from the world to approach Him in the fear of God, with faith and love in the joy of His Holy Resurrection. Glory to Jesus Christ! Most Holy Theotokos save us! The joy of the Feast be with you!