Sermon: Sunday after Theophany

© 2009 by Fr. Milan Medakovic. Reprinted with permission.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Bog se javi!
God is revealed!

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the Sunday after Theophany, or the baptism of our Lord in the Jordan by Saint John the Baptist. Sometimes we hear Theophany referred to as Epiphany. The proper terminology is Theophany, because it means God being made manifest, versus Epiphany, which is just something being made manifest. Additionally, Epiphany in the West is the celebration of the Magi coming to the child Jesus. For these reasons, it is better if we use the Greek name for this feast, Theophany.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of Christ leaving for Galilee upon hearing that Saint John the Baptist had been imprisoned. He then begins His public ministry with the message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Why does our Lord retreat to Galilee upon hearing of John’s imprisonment? Why does he not confront those that would persecute Him from the start? Saint John Chrysostom and the Blessed Theophylact provide the same answer to these questions. Our Lord withdraws to Galilee to teach us to protect ourselves by not going out to meet with temptations or to put ourselves into danger.

The Gospel says that Christ departed to Galilee, which means rolled down. It says that He dwelt in Capernaum that translates to house of comfort and consolation. The Gospel then states that this is in the region of Zebulon, meaning nocturnal, and Naphtali, meaning broadening. This shows that Christ not only came into the world for the Jews but, also for the Gentiles. Thus, Christ went to the Gentiles who were rolled down in sin by dark and broad ways of life that lead to destruction as a comfort and consolation to them. The same is for us, my dear brothers in sisters. We need to ask ourselves do we want to walk on the narrow path to salivation by following God’s Law, or walk on the broad path that will lead to our own destruction?

Saint Matthew says that Christ’s coming to this region was to fulfill the Prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 9:1) again, to show that Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecies. This prophecy says that the people of Zebulon and Naphtali that were sitting in darkness saw a great light. The most obvious understanding of this is that they see Christ coming to them. The deeper meaning of the great light is that the Law of God has been brought to them by Christ. This is a great challenge for us, my dear brothers and sisters. We who have accepted Christ into our lives are also responsible for sharing that Great Light with others. At times, we do not realize the darkness that exists in the lives of the people that are close to us. When we share our faith by the examples of our lives, we help bring the Light of Christ to those around us.

It was not until Saint John the Baptist was arrested that Christ began his public ministry. This was because John was a prophet who prepared the way of the Lord by bearing witness to Him. Blessed Theophylact says that this is in the same manner as servants make preparations for their masters.

Christ’s preaching was that of a simple message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance, or the changing of one’s mind and being to God, is to turn and live a life of virtue. Living a life of virtue is to live an angelic life. In living an angelic life, the kingdom of heaven is made manifest within each of us. When the kingdom is made manifest within us, it is also made manifest to the world around us.

This simple message of repentance is given to us now by the Church to remind us that we are about to start the Great and Holy Fast, Veliki Post. It is hard to believe that in a few short weeks, we will be preparing for Christ’s Resurrection. The first message that we are given in order to prepare is to repent.

So, my dear brothers in sisters in Christ:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Repent, for Christ came into the world for the salvation of all men as a little child.
Repent, for Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan that the Trinity was made manifest.
Repent, for Christ came to those that sat in darkness that they might see a great light.
Repent, for Christ is going to his voluntary life-saving Passion.
Repent, for Christ is crucified for us men and our salvation.
Repent, for Christ is risen to grant us eternal life.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Amen.

Bog se javi!
God is revealed!