Feast of the Theophany.


Epiphany (Koine Greek: Ἐπιφάνεια, Epiphaneia, "Manifestation", "striking appearance") or Theophany[2] (Ancient Greek: (ἡ) Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia meaning "Vision of God") is a the feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ.


The Feast of the Epiphany is one of the Seven Major Feasts of our Lord, celebrated on 11 Tobe of every Coptic year. The word “Epiphany” refers to the “Divine Appearance,” where the Holy Trinity appeared to Mankind in an obvious and clear way. Many Churches celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord and His baptism on the same day until the end of the 4th century, when a decision was made to celebrate the events separately. As a whole, the Feast of the Epiphany was of extreme importance to the Church, particularly in Egypt, a day when the Patriarch of Alexandria would announce the commencing days of the Great Lent, the Passion Week (Pascha), and the feast of the Resurrection for that year, to which all the churches of the world would follow.


On this day, the Lord Christ was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, not for repentance, as the rest of the world, or because of His need to, but rather on the behalf of and for the sake of humanity, as well as revealing to us the Holy Trinity, transfigured and glorified. St. Luke speaks of this in his gospel saying: “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’” (Lk. 3:21-22). From these verses, we notice that through the baptism of the Lord Christ, the heavens were opened once again after Adam was prevented from returning to the Garden of Eden. The Holy Trinity is also revealed to us in this passage; the Father by His voice and witness to Christ, the Son baptized in the River, and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove on the Lord Christ.


In the church year, the feast of the nativity is closely followed by the celebration of Jesus’ baptism because of the parallels between these two great events. The opening of heaven is a programmatic theme for the rest of the Gospel, for the opened heaven signals the coming of the forgiveness of sins. The mystery of the Trinity is present—Father, Son and Spirit are eternally three in one. "The great mystery is that Christ, true God and true man, anointed with the Holy Spirit and acknowledged by the Father, opens the way for fallen human beings to be incorporated into Christ through baptism and likewise to receive the Spirit and to be adopted as children of God" (St CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA). As “the Anointed One,” “the Messiah,” “the Christ,” Jesus stands in the waters of the Jordan both in solidarity with us and in substitution for us. By entering the waters of the Jordon on our behalf, he sanctifies water for our baptism. The appearance of the Holy Spirit as a dove recalls Noah after the flood, pointing to the ark of Noah as the church where the dove was a symbol of peace, and pointing to Christ whose church is his body. The declaration that Jesus is the beloved Son is the high point of Jesus’ baptism and shows the unity of Father and Son.


St Cyril of Alexandira comments on the Mystery of Christ's Baptism saying " But how then, they object, was he baptized and received the Spirit? We reply that he had no need of holy baptism. He was wholly pure and spotless, and the holiest of the holy. He did not need the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit that proceeds from God the Father is from him and equal to him in substance. Now, at last, we must explain God’s plan of salvation. God, in his love of humankind, provided for us a way of salvation and of life. Believing in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and making this confession before many witnesses, we wash away all the filth of sin. The communication of the Holy Spirit enriched us, made us partakers of the divine nature and gained for us the grace of adoption as God’s children. It was necessary, therefore, that the Word of the Father become for our sakes the pattern and way of every good work when he humbled himself to emptiness and deigned to assume our likeness. For it follows that he who is first in everything must set the example in this too. He commences the work himself in order that we may learn about the power of holy baptism and learn how much we gain by approaching so great a grace. Having been baptized, he prays that you, my beloved, may learn that never-ceasing prayer is a thing most fitting for those who have once been counted worthy of holy baptism."


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