17 Sunday Before Theophany, Jan 1, 2012

In the dark of winter, He who clothes Himself with light as with a garment clothes Himself in our flesh and is born in the cave of the Virgin as a precious rose in ways past nature. The dark cave of Bethlehem receives the uncreated light of God made flesh who now as man shines in the darkness of this world, filling all things from within with joy. The Life that is the Light of men comes into the world. The Creator God who founded the earth upon the waters Himself descends into the waters of creation and establishes the earth on the living waters of His Holy Spirit, filling all things from within with the uncreated light of God that is the true life of men. And now, from the banks of the Jordan, He cries out with His Bride in the victory of His cross: “Come, you who are thirsty and drink! Come to the Light and see the glory of man created in the Image and Likeness of God!” “Repent – turn away from the darkness and come to the light – for the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Light, of Life and Joy in the love of the Holy Trinity is here among you!”

Christ our God, the true light who illumines all has come into the world and united Himself with the first light of creation to make all things new and to restore mankind to his original beauty in the glory of God. He clothes Himself in our flesh; He clothes Himself in the waters of creation; He clothes Himself in the burial shroud of death, and He destroys death by His death. He makes the Church, who before was barren in the disobedience of Eve, unable to bring forth children of light, fertile with many children. Through the blessed Panagia, the New Eve, children of men become children of God; children of earth become citizens of heaven; children of flesh are born of the Spirit and are granted by the beneficent grace and kind generosity of the Lord’s saving compassion to become partakers of the very divine nature of God.

The darkness of the long winter days is pierced with the heavenly radiance of the Church’s glorious proclamation of the Gospel. It is a proclamation of divine light that illumines the mind with the revelation of mankind’s true nature and destiny, the mystery that was hidden in God from before the ages but now is revealed in the glory of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh through the blessed Panagia. It is the mystery of Christ in you! Christ clothed in our human flesh making it divine. Christ clothed in the waters of creation making them wet with the dew of heaven. Christ clothed in the burial shroud of our death transfiguring our life into a sacrificial offering in the love of God the Father, and making the offering of our daily life into the beginning of our eternal life in God in His Kingdom of Light. For, in our baptism, we have been put on the same Christ who was born in our flesh and who was baptized in the waters of the Jordan and who destroyed death by His death. And when we go forth from the waters of the Jordan in our own baptism, and in faith and love of Christ work to baptize our daily life in the waters of the Jordan, then our daily life becomes a daily offering that opens onto Eden. We discover joy in the cave; we discover the light of Christ shining in the secrecy of our heart; we discover the life and the joy of Christ our God that the world cannot take away, for it is the light of Christ God Himself shining in the darkness that the darkness cannot comprehend. 

This glorious proclamation of the Gospel becomes the vision that guides our life. It proclaims to us the heavenly Robe of Light that now clothes us mystically even in this world. It proclaims to us the strength of divine grace that has been sown in our souls and bodies that can transform the troubles of this worldly life into an offering to God by which the lusts and the vanity and the conceit that darken us and make our souls heavy with anxiety and unease are crucified with Christ and put to death, so that our daily life becomes a daily baptism into Christ, a daily clothing of ourselves in the likeness of His death that makes all things new in the light and joy of His Holy Resurrection.

We do see this light, we can see it, but not through the cold sterility of rational dialectic or philosophical speculation or the sappy emotionalism of human sentimentality. We see this light through our own experience in the life of Christ, in the daily taking up of our Cross in obedience to Christ’s command to “repent”, to “come to the Light!” “Come, you who are thirsty; come to the waters and drink! Taste and see how good the Lord is!” We can see this light in the liturgical beauty of the Feasts that constitute this time of year in the Church as the season of light. Perhaps we cannot see this light with our physical eyes, but that is because our hearts are not pure. But we hear it with our ears in the proclamation of the Church. And, perhaps, when we reflect back on the liturgical celebration of these Feasts, the soft beauty of the candles burning, the serene beauty of the prayers sung in praise to God, the glorious things spoken in the Church’s Gospel proclamation, our remembrance of what we saw and heard and felt may well be bathed in mystical light. I believe this is the light of God that has filled all things with joy. It is the light of the Jordan, the light of the Church’s Holy Baptism, the light that radiates from the life-creating tomb of the Savior’s Holy Resurrection. It is the uncreated light of the living waters of the Holy Spirit illuming creation with the dew of heaven, opening the cave onto Eden, the waters of the Jordan onto the holy mystery of Christ’s Pascha, and the tomb onto the uncreated light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, filling all things with joy. It is the light of the divine Word “calling” out to us in the voice of St John the Baptism and in the preaching of the Savior: “Come to the Light. Come to the River of Joy and drink!” Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of Joy, the Kingdom of the Savior’s Compassion is here. The uncreated Light of God has dawned in the cave. The uncreated L

ight of Christ shines in the darkness, illuming the world all the way to its foundation revealing the path that descends all the way to the root of the world and through its gates ascending beyond into the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of Heaven that is here, in our midst, in the joy, the beauty, the light of the most blessed Panagia and her Son and our God, the blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

O lovers of Christ: why would anyone who has seen even a glimpse of the glorious joy of the Church’s Gospel proclamation not want to make every effort to come to the Feast? Don’t allow earthly ties to keep you from coming to the Light in the Church on this great and holy Feast and to be sprinkled with the blessed water of Theophany as with droplets of uncreated light, sprinkling your  bodies, your homes, your world with the living joy of Christ in the Light of His Heavenly Kingdom. Glory to Jesus Christ! The Joy of the Feast be with you!