Feast of the Theophany of Christ

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
His Love transforms Everything
Feast of the Theophany of Christ
6 January, 2008
Titus 2:11-14 ; 3:4-7 ; Matthew 3:13-17

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

When we are celebrating today the Theophany of our Saviour, this is not a simple feast, a simple celebration of only the Baptism of Christ. True, it is the Baptism of Christ and this is extremely important. However, at the same time that we are celebrating the Baptism of Christ, we are celebrating also the revelation of the Holy Trinity. This is the first of our liturgical experiences of the Holy Trinity in the sanctoral liturgical year. As we are singing in the tropar : The voice of the Father calls Jesus His beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirms the truth of the voice of the Father. As we can see, this is a very important moment for us. The Holy Trinity, in the form of the Three Persons, is revealed to us. What is expressed in the tropar is not only the fact that Jesus Christ is truly the beloved Son of God. What also is expressed is the fact that the Holy Trinity is being revealed to us. God’s love for us, His patience with us, and His care for us are completely beyond our comprehension.

We, who are Orthodox Christians, have to remember this particular detail : that God is revealing Himself to us. We live in a society that is enslaved to logic and to all sorts of visible data – so-called “science”. It is not really science ; it is pretending-to-be science. If it were truly science, it would recognise God, and everything else would fall into place. However, what we are calling “science” is godless, and therefore, it is just a fake. There is some truth in this “science”, but who can believe exactly what are the conclusions when the conclusions are without God. In our society, we are constantly demanding some sort of particular proof. We want to have some sort of proof of God. As the Soviet Nikita Khrushchev said, when the first satellites were flying above the earth : “They didn’t report seeing God up there”. The cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is often maligned as having said this. This man, however, was a firm Christian believer, and anything he would say to support Christian belief would be changed to suit the godless. It was Khrushchev who said these words.

When we are singing : “The Lord is God, and has revealed Himself to us” (as we are singing on this feast, and other feasts also, but most particularly on this feast), we are, in fact, proclaiming what is the foundation of our experience. God is the Lord – the Lord is God ; He has revealed Himself to us. He, in His love, shows to us Who He is. Who is He ? The Apostle says that God is simply love. Love. On that foundation, all creation exists. It does not exist because of a series of silly accidents : lightning striking some pond sometime, or a million more “accidents”. No. Where does this lightning come from anyway ? No scientist can say that. Where does anything come from ? No scientist can say that. God is the Lord – the Lord is God, and has revealed Himself to us. The Lord, who is love, out of His love creates everything, and everything that is, exists by His love. It does not exist apart from His love. He is also in everything that He creates. The Grace of the Holy Spirit sustains everything that exists.

The Lord is in everything. He is with us, also. He is renewing everything that He created, and He is renewing us also. This is the expression of His love. When we have our sorrows, our pains and our illnesses, we turn to Him and He consoles us. Sometimes we get physical healing ; always we get some sort of spiritual healing because the Lord, in His love, cares for us. He is with us.

It was not long ago (because I am involved in dialogues) that I was having to read a book about the Eucharist by the current Pope. The title of this book is : God is near us. Here the Pope is showing where he is off track because God is not near us. He is with us, in us – that is the whole point. (I am sad that the Pope lost the point. However, if we are having conversations with him, eventually maybe he and his successors will get the point.) What is always important for you and for me to remember is that we, who know the Lord, have the responsibility to reveal to people around us the Lord God, who has revealed Himself to us, and who still reveals Himself to us. If we are Orthodox Christians, and we believe truly that the Lord is God, and has revealed Himself to us, then it is important that we live this love (which is God’s love). It is important, in living this love, that we share it with people around us, and reveal Christ in us, and allow Christ to reveal Himself through us to other people who are without Him.

Another important point for us today is about this water. Today we are going to be blessing this water, by the Grace of God. We are asking God to bless this water with the blessing of the Jordan River. In the same way that Christ descends into the waters today and is baptised, and blesses the waters of the Jordan, and through the waters of the Jordan blesses the whole earth, so we are renewing that blessing, and extending that blessing by placing His holy Cross in the water. By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, this water takes on, by His mercy, the character of His love.

Here is an interesting twist about “science”. In Japan, there was a scientist, Masaru Emoto (maybe some of you have already read this book), who decided that he was going to study the character of water at the point of freezing, and watch the crystallisation of water and its characteristics. He did this by studying different sorts of water. He studied tap water, lake water, water that is polluted, water that is around pleasant circumstances, water that is around rock music, water that is around Mozart, water that has people saying to it : I love you, water that has people saying to it : I hate you. He studied the nature of the crystals under all these circumstances, and he found that the crystallisation of the water was very different according to the circumstances. Under positive circumstances, the crystals are very clear and normal. When water is under generally good circumstances, things are regular. When water is around Mozart, or words of love, encouragement, hope, peace, and so forth, the crystals are particularly nice-looking. When the water is polluted, you can hardly recognise a crystal at all – it is all completely distorted. The same thing happens around negative emotions like hate, anger, and certain sorts of rock music (because certain sorts of rock music are characterised exactly by anger, and even hatred).

Then there was a study done in Russia by Russian scientists who decided to take this a step farther. They made a DVD of the results of this experiment. They repeated the studies of the Japanese scientists, and then they added on their own more elaborate studies of the characteristics of water. They showed what holy water looks like, water that has been blessed in the Orthodox Church. This water is, apparently, really extraordinary – extraordinarily beautiful. They did further studies, and they discovered that water that is in this good condition heals water that is in a bad condition. One small part of blessed water or healthy water will heal corrupted water at least 60, if not 600 times as much. It does that much. That is the strength of the influence of this holy water, this blessed water, this healthy water on corrupted water. We Orthodox Christians have been for 2,000 years blessing water. Now, we have science, “godly science”, on our side to support what we are doing. It is not just some sort of nice thing. To drink holy water is not just something you have to do because you are an Orthodox Christian. The scientists have confirmed that it is good for you. It is not just good for us – it is good for all God’s creation. It was an interesting DVD to see, although I did not understand it so thoroughly, of course, because I have too little Russian to comprehend everything. I did have explainers to help me, however.

This water, this healthy, holy water, that is healing all the corrupted water around it, is also a sign for you and for me, Orthodox Christians, who live in the context of this blessing. Our bodies are made up of so much water. If the Lord is blessing us in this way, the water that is constituting our bodies has to have a similar quality. Our life must have a similar quality. It is our responsibility to bring Christ’s healing to people around us, and to the earth around us on which we live. This is our responsibility. This is all part of God, who is Love, revealing Himself to us. The Lord is God. God is Love. His love is with us. His love transforms this water. His love transforms us. His love transforms everything.

Nevertheless, we must co-operate. And so today, as we are receiving the precious Body and Blood of our Saviour, and also, this holy water, let us ask the Lord to heal our hearts, our bodies, our lives. Let us ask Him to enable us, also, to bring with us wherever we are, this healing, transfiguring, transforming love, bringing health to human relationships, health to people who are broken. Let us actively allow the Lord to change things through us ; and in doing this, let us glorify Him, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.