Most years The Epiphany (Theophany) Feast comes around and I am oblivious of its presence. Let’s be honest it’s only that this year the feast has fallen on a Friday and everyone is talking about how great it is that Friday isn’t Fasting!
I am one of those people…
But what most of us may have forgotten is that the Epiphany is one of the seven MAJOR Lordly feasts! Which makes it kind of a big deal. It means that it goes in the same basket as The Nativity, The Resurrection, The Ascension, Pentecost, Palm Sunday and The Annunciation. Unfortunately however in our minds The Epiphany usually ends up getting forgotten about.
This year, while on the way to Epiphany Mass for some reason I remembered a gift I was given at the start of year 5. The gift was of a framed fabric that was filled like a cushion and was entirely covered in a clear plastic. Into the fabric was stitched with the words:
“This is my Beloved SON in whom I am well pleased”
If I am to be honest, I was not terribly flattered at the reception of this gift, which I would expect be a pretty typical response from most 9 year olds.
Some 5 or 6 years down the track I noticed an addition to the somewhat now forgotten about gift. My dad had since lifted up the clear plastic covering and slipped in a School photo of me in to one of the corners. As I gazed upon this scene, seeing my photo there and reading what was written I wondered what this meant. “This is my Beloved SON in whom I am well pleased.” Could these words be referring to me? And if so, who would be speaking?
My first impression was a very troubling one, for certainly this could not be okay. These words were spoken of by God the Father referring to God His Son who is being baptised in the Jordan as the Holy Spirit hovers over in the form of a dove. Surely it is not okay for my dad to slip in a photo of me as if I am somehow involved in such a spectacle!
Fast forward 10 years more and here I am in 2018 on the train to Blacktown for Epiphany Mass and still pondering the same question; could these words refer to me? And if so, how so?
Out of all of the events of the Epiphany, what startles me the most is that He who had no sin insisted on being baptised. Truly Christ had no need to be baptised but the significance of His baptism for us, is a bigger deal than what we may think.
Baptism at the time of John the Baptist was a sign of repentance, a deep remorse or regret for ones sins and the hope of being cleansed from sin. However the baptism of John could not take away one’s sins; it could not make man truly pleasing before God.
But when the Man who is sinless and always pleasing before the Father, is baptised, performing this act of repentance (not doing it on His own behalf but as a man completing it on behalf of humanity) the response of the father is declared in the hearing of all the people saying, “This is my Beloved SON in whom I am well pleased”.
This baptism, the baptism of Christ, and only the baptism of Christ, is that which is pleasing before the Lord. Therefore it is this true baptism in which we are all mysteriously baptised into, a baptism that is not only for repentance but also for the remission of sins.
So perhaps Dad wasn’t so far off after all, for if you have been baptised in Christ then the words of the father for you also, saying “This is my Beloved SON in whom I am well pleased”.
And that is a BIG deal!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Glory be to God forever Amen.
SAYG ~ Alex Hanna