Sermon before Consecration of the Waters on the Epiphany Day of St John Maximovitch

“The heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form, like a dove” on Christ, as He was standing in the Jordan River. The voice of God the Father sounded from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased(Luke 3:21-22; Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17).

Today the sky is open as wide as it was on that day; the Holy Spirit blesses the waters, and God is bearing witness unto His Son.

Oh, if only our spiritual eyes were open! If only our ears could perceive heavenly wisdom! We would then see that the heavens are open above us. We would see the Son of God standing among us and the Holy Spirit hovering above us. We would hear the voice of God, making manifest the deity of the Savior of the world.

We would feel the Holy Spirit descending onto the waters, returning to them their primeval kindness, and making them a life-giving power, reviving the fallen nature. We ourselves would become illuminated with light, our lips would be filled with spirit and joyfully glorified Him Who has established us on the rock of faith.

But the divine becomes visible only for those who are pure in heart. Those who are darkened by sin look but do not see; they listen but do not hear.

People saw the sky during the Lord’s baptism, but only John saw it as open.

Many looked at the Lord Jesus Christ when He came to Jordan, but only John felt that He was the incarnate Son of God, while others looked at Him as an ordinary man, a carpenter and a carpenter’s son.

Perhaps, others also saw the Holy Spirit descending on Him in the form of a dove, but only John understood that it was the Holy Spirit, while others took it for an ordinary dove.

The voice of God the Father on the river of Jordan must have been heard by many, but only John clearly heard it as God’s testimony about His Son. Others heard it like storm, thundering over the waters, just as later people took for a thunder the answer of God the Father that sounded from heaven after the prayer offered by the Son (John12:30)

So now, we see the clouds obscuring the sky, but we do not see that it is open; we are breathing the air, but we do not feel the Holy Spirit descending upon ourselves and the water; we hear the words of church chants without understanding their Divine power.

But truly, between us stands the One Who said, Where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.(Matt.18:20). The heavens are truly open and their Creator testifies to the Co-eternal Word. The Holy Spirit will now descend on the waters and sanctify them. By the grace of God, water will become the source of mental and physical health, the sanctification of ourselves, our dwellings and all of nature. It will be kept incorruptible for many years; it will become, as it were, the voice of God, proclaiming that our Savior Jesus Christ is the Son of God, Who has descended to earth, and will revive us to incorruptibility and elevate to the Heavenly Church.

Let us open our hearts with faith and, opening our lips in praise, from the depths of our souls let us exclaim: “Great are you, O Lord, and wonderful are your works; no word suffices to give praise to your wonders!”

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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