Thursday, January 5, 2012

Eve of Theophany

Make ready, Zabulon; prepare thyself, o Nepthalim. River Jordan, stay thy course and skip for gladness to receive the Sovereign Master, Who cometh to be baptized. O Adam, be thou glad with our first mother, Eve; hide not as ye did of old in Paradise. Seeing you naked, He hath appeared now to clothe you in the first robe again. Christ hath appeared for He truly willeth to renew all creation.--Apolytikion for Feast of Theophany, Tone 4 sung to the melody "Joseph was Amazed"

So, what's the reference to Zabulon and Nepthalim? This is from the Prophecy of Isaiah. Zabulon and Nephthalim are metaphors for the northern kingdom which, to Isaiah, was the kingdom of darkness as opposed to the true Kingdom of Judah, the southern. Christ's baptism occurred in the regions of the former northern kingdom. It is from this previous kingdom of darkness that the opening word of both St. John the Forerunner and Christ was proclaimed: Repent!

The location of Christ's saving work is as important as the work itself. Christ does not proclaim to the people to repent in a place filled the righteous. He was not born in a place where everyone was waiting to receive Him with joy. He was not baptized in a land that did not need the Lord's redemption. As Christ Himself said, "I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners." And He does this by going into the very midst of sinners--the house of Simon the Leper, the homes of tax collectors. He associates Himself with harlots and Pharisees. He has revealed Himself so that we can commune with Him in reality, not some mystic metaphorical contemplative way. The only way Christ triumphs over sin is by being in the midst of sin. That is why He had to take flesh and dwell among us and not direct our salvation from the comforts of His heavenly throne.

No comments:

Post a Comment