Ephesians 4:7-13; Matthew 4:12-17
It is certainly possible to have a letdown after the holiday season. Though it has its own stresses, a time of year filled with parties, rich food, and visiting with loved ones appeals to most people, if only as a cultural observance. The same is surely true for those of us who celebrated the Savior’s birth at Christmas and His baptism at Theophany. We enjoyed the beautiful services with their joyful hymns and familiar readings, as well as the blessing of the holy water. As the season of Theophany concludes today, we may have a sense of loss that this special time of year is coming to a close. That is understandable, but we will have missed the point entirely of this great feast if we think that we should now simply forget about it and get back to life as usual.
As we conclude the season of Theophany today, our focus should not be on regretting that we are back at work or school or that the beautiful trappings of the holiday season have come down. It should also not be on how we have fulfilled a religious duty by focusing on the spiritual truth manifested at Christ’s baptism: that He is truly the Son of God and member of the Holy Trinity. Instead, our focus must be on becoming ever more brilliant epiphanies of the Light of Christ in our darkened world. We do not do that as isolated individuals or on the basis simply of our emotions, our opinions, or even our morality. No, we do that when we live our lives faithfully as members of Christ’s Body, the Church. We must use our gifts “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” There is no other genuinely Christian way of life.
Should it be surprising, then, that growth in the Christian life is also relational and communal? We share in the eternal life of our Lord, not as isolated individuals, but as members of Him and of one another. That is why our common life must become an icon that images the eternal love of the Holy Trinity, if we are to grow in holiness. Anything less falls terribly short of manifesting what we celebrate at Theophany.
After His baptism, Christ called the people to repent and get ready for the coming of God’s Kingdom. We must repent of thinking that we can serve Him faithfully apart from using our gifts, whatever they may be, for the edification of His Body, the Church. God has given us different strengths and abilities, and we must offer ourselves to Him and to one another to build up His Body if we are to have any hope of attaining “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Our calling is nothing less than to become an epiphany of the communion of divine love shared by the members of the Holy Trinity. We have certainly not ascended into heaven, but we have died to sin in being baptized into the death of the One Who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. We have put Him on like a garment, being clothed in the robe of light. We are Christ’s Bride, the Church, and He is the Bridegroom. In receiving Communion, we become one flesh with Him through union with His Body and Blood. We are also one flesh with one another, with all who commune with Him, for we are members of the same Body.
So after celebrating Theophany, we simply cannot go back to life as usual. In order to respond faithfully to the revelation of the Holy Trinity, our common life must shine with the light of God’s salvation in our darkened world. There is no other genuinely Christian form of witness, no other way to attain to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” than to love and serve our Lord in one another. That is how the worship of the Trinity will be made manifest in the life of our parish. as we build up the Body of Christ. That is how we will obey the Lord’s command: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”