We are connected with God, kin to God, and lonely without God
One day we were brought to church and baptized. Some of us were baptized as adults. Some of us then brought their own children to the baptismal font, while others became godparents, or have been invited to a baptism by their friends. Unlike its ancient prototype, the modern rite of baptism does not take very long and does not always allow its participants to think deeply about the events prefiguring the Sacrament performed before our eyes.
Performed a ritual washing in the Jordan river, St John was preaching repentance. He was calling on the Jews to reconsider their life habits, their beliefs, and their inner attitudes in order to become closer to God and to fulfill their purpose, becoming united with Him. At the same time, achieving unity with the Creator is impossible without theosis, i. e., becoming like Him. Obviously, we cannot begin to think and act like God on our own and need help “from the outside”. This is why Christ came into the world, drawing a route to the salvation of human souls with his earthly life.
A person needs a ritual falling outside the scope of the household, cultural and leisure spheres of his life; a mystical rite that would mobilize him to meet with the Spirit. This is exactly what Sacraments are for. God acts through them, “tuning” a person into Divine eternity. It is hard to imagine a Sacrament, performed in an ordinary environment, without a touch of solemnity and mystery.
God uses rituals to bring people closer to Himself, filling them with His energy, which He is ready to generously share with us. In order to unite with Him, we need to make a decision, admitting our desire to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Christ sets a living example for us, entering the waters of Jordan, and allowing John to submerge Him three times. Christ appears as man before the crowd (since no one knows about His true Essence yet) showing us how God welcomes our will, effort and action directed towards Him.
The response to the ritual actions on the day of Theophany was the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ. Clearly, this was done not for Christ, with His Divine nature, but for us, as if to say, “Being baptized, and gaining membership in the Church, you receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This is the beginning of your union with Me.
The voice of the Father was then heard from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”(Mark 1:11). He refers to Christ in the Gospel, but we can assume that we are hereby shown the attitude of God towards a person being baptized. Having received the gifts of the Spirit, this person is also being shown the support of the Heavenly Father. Besides being True God, Christ is also a true living example for every Christian. Being called, as Christians, to attain the likeness of God, we are also called to walk the Savior’s path in one way or another. This path starts with baptism. Taking this first step on the path of union with God, we are approaching each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. We imitate Christ as the God-Man, entering the baptismal font and following the will of the Father; our good will is rewarded with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, necessary for a happy life and the salvation of the soul; and finally, this our step is approved by the Father, who, as it were, adopts us, numbering us with the Church.
After baptism, Christ went into wilderness. A desert is a place of loneliness. It is also a place where Christ defeated the father of lies after spending 40 days in prayer. In fact a Christian’s whole life can be compared to a desert, since loneliness is a believer’s natural state, in which he has to fight the attacks of passions to the last breath, no matter how many close and dear people surround him. You can only make decisions and conduct spiritual warfare on your own. The only helper on the way to the kingdom of heaven is God. Each believer has his own desert where he performs the feat of his personal salvation, calling on Christ for help.
God showed us how to make our first step towards His kingdom, sharing with us the gifts of the Spirit, and the Father’s blessing. He also warns us that it is not going to be easy, since each of us will have to face the forces of evil in a toe to toe spiritual battle. But there is no reason to despair. God will not abandon us and will always come to the rescue.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds