Sermon – Theophany


Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

Matthew 3:13-17

Dearly beloved brethren in Christ,

In the apostolic reading, there is a key word: ‘heirs’. St Paul says that we became heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven through the grace of God and through our hope in the Lord. You know, when you are looking forward to inheriting, you are usually referring to a person that you have a relationship with — your father, grandfather, an uncle, an aunt — and today, we hear this word about Jesus Christ. Why do we hear this word? Because when our Lord came to this earth and was born in Bethlehem and, on this day, was baptised in the River Jordan, he gave us a great gift, and this gift is even greater than the gift of our creation. This is the gift of sonship. Thus, he offered us adoption, he made us children of God by grace, brothers and sisters, not only of himself, but of one another. We usually confine these relationships of brotherhood or sisterhood only to our biological family. Nevertheless, today our Lord reassured us that we belong to a much much greater family: his family. He made us part of his genealogical tree, he made us ancestors.

How does this happen? By our receiving his own body and blood in Holy Communion — ‘Drink from this all of you’. This is how we receive him in us, and we allow him to stay in us not only because we participate in this Holy Sacrament of the Holy Communion, but also because we follow his will, we follow his word. Because, if I only come to the church, I participate in the Holy Liturgy and take the Holy Communion, but I then return back to my usual life after leaving the church, then I’m doing nothing. So today our Lord told us: ‘You know, you are part of me. You are part of my family. We are brothers and sisters’. And this blessing of becoming a part of God — that is, coming into communion with him — entails some duties on our part. As I said before, these duties are encapsulated in this hymn: ‘As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ’. That is, we give a promise to be in such a close relationship with him, in such close communion with him, as close as our clothes are to our skin. Today, as we bless the waters, we reconfirm this promise we gave, and take the Holy Water to our houses, and keep it in a safe place, and whenever we need his help, we drink some of it in order to keep the blessing within us.

Today, is the day we in our tradition call ‘the Lights’, because the Sun, Jesus Christ, was rose over the earth and gave us great consolation. Jesus Christ began his ministry in Galilee, the land of the Gentiles. Not in Jerusalem, but the land of the sinful people; not as the Hebrew people expected. It is a great consolation for us because he gave us the message: ‘I came to save the people who have missed the mark, the people who make mistakes’. This is a great consolation for us because we make mistakes; this is human. What a blessing to have our Lord waiting for us to repent; that is, waiting for us to change our mind. When Peter asked, ‘How many times? Is seven times enough?’, he replied, ‘Seventy times seven’. This is the quintessence of our faith: our ability to fall, but to stand afterwards. We are fallible, but when we fall we stand up again. The most important thing is not to become fallen.

Thus, we can fall, but let us not forget that we have to stand up again, knowing that he is waiting for us with open arms, waiting for us to make the right decision and to follow the right path. If we do that, we have nothing to be afraid of, neither disease nor any pandemic. If we live our life with God, then a lot of our anxiety vanishes away. Let’s do that. Let’s have Christ and his word in our hearts, in our minds, and then we will have the light within us even in these dark times, because Jesus Christ is the Light of our Life. Amen.

Archimandrite Apostolos Trifyllis
Transcription: Fr Kristian Akselberg