January 6, 2022

Homily on the Day of the Theophany of the Lord (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Today the waters are sanctified, and the Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized" (Troparion at the Sanctification of the Waters).

In peace, we will now go out, in the name of the Lord, to the river and there we will immerse the Life-giving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in water. Why will we immerse? For the remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was baptized once in the Jordan River. Is it just a commemoration? No, but also for the sanctification of the waters. "Today the waters are sanctified, and the Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized." Yes, at the commemoration of our Lord Jesus Christ, through immersion in the water of His Life-giving Cross, the water is sanctified, it becomes holy, healing souls and bodies and to drive away all resisting forces. Ordinary water, by its very nature, is only healthy for the body, and through sanctification, its nature changes, improves, is elevated, so that it becomes a blessing for the body and the soul.

This is what, listeners, I want to remind you of now. The remembrance or invocation of our Lord Jesus Christ, in all cases, is salutary for us. We will certainly receive some kind of grace from the Lord, some kind of divine benefit for the soul and for the body, for health and salvation, if we remember with thought and with attention, with faith and reverence, and call on His name, or if we only say: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God!" The name of a good man who is close to us, who is ready for anything for us, when you say it, you feel some kind of joy and pleasure in your heart; how can our hearts not be filled with joy and gladness at the remembrance of our all-merciful Lord Jesus Christ, who, overflowing with all grace, is full of love for us and readiness to help us!

Water, a substance that does not feel anything, feels the Lord immersed in it, because it is purified, sanctified. Can it be that we, rational beings, will not feel, will not become purer, holier at the remembrance of the Lord, standing, as it were, before Him, our Heavenly King? Likewise, in the presence of an important, respectable person, we immediately take on the best, most humble, respectful appearance of ourselves, as soon as he appears before us. God the Father, loving His Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus, is always merciful to those who remember His name before Him or ask in His name. This is like a tender mother who immediately turns her affectionate gaze to the place where they pronounce the name of her beloved son with praise.

Yes, listener, call on the Son, and God the Father is your Father, and the grace of the Holy Spirit is with you. And against our enemies, against everything hostile to us, to our health and salvation, what a strong and invincible weapon for us is our Lord Jesus Christ! Yes, even to this day demons flee in His name, and hitherto sick people are healthy in His name, and hitherto deadly things do not harm in His name (see: Mark 16:17, 18). Nothing can ever stand before the name of the Lord. His name even helps when, overwhelmed by passion or fear, tormented by a mental or bodily ailment, as if reluctantly or not knowing what to do, remembers Him, calls on Him, or protects those with the sign of the cross.

A certain elder was saving himself in an empty temple of the idols. The enemies of salvation wanted to drive him out of there. The elder somehow resisted their attacks; finally, they attacked him with such audacity that he did not know what to do and shouted: "Jesus, help!" And the enemies instantly disappeared. Then the elder wept. "What are you crying about?" an invisible voice asked. “That the enemies of faith and piety dare to mock the servants of God,” answered the elder. “You yourself are to blame,” objected the heavenly voice,  "Why didn't you remember Me? You see: as soon as you called Me, I immediately helped you." The elder understood the voice of the Speaker and fell on his face before the Invisible One.

Here, listeners, we sometimes complain, we are ready to grumble. Why do passions torment us so much, struggle against us, enemies annoy us, disturb us? Why do unclean thoughts not give rest, and confuse, bewilder? Why do troubles lead to despondency, diseases weigh down on you? Why don't we do what we love and fall into what we despise? Why are we so quick for evil and so immobile for good? Why are we not Angels of God, pure spirits, but evil people, vile creatures? Why do we forget about Jesus Christ our Lord? Why don't we call on Him? Why don't we remember Him ceaselessly, how the Angels in Heaven eternally see the face of the Heavenly Father? After all, we are weak, weak only without Jesus Christ, and with Him we are strong, and with Him everything is possible for us. Yes, there is in the world a force of hostility, resisting, always drawing us to evil and often drawing us into evil - a strong, mighty force, against which it is difficult for us to resist, but together is the most feeble, powerless, which at the very name of Jesus flees from us, melts like wax near the fire, disappears like darkness when the sun appears.

So, Christian listeners who now remember the Lord Jesus Christ, who was baptized in the Jordan and thus sanctified the nature of the waters and sanctifies until now! Let us more often remember and call on Him for our purification and salvation, for the health of the body and for the joy of the soul, for deliverance from fear and passions, from unclean thoughts and harmful desires, from misfortunes and diseases, to drive away everything hostile to us and to apply all Divine grace. In the name of the Lord, we are always strong and with His name, wherever we go, we are safe everywhere, everywhere in the world we are whole. Amen.