The Waters Are Made Holy

by St. Proclus of Constantinople

Our father among the saints, Proclus, was was noted for his prayerful life and that he studied the Holy Scripture. He became a reader at an early age. He was a disciple of John Chrysostom and was ordained a deacon and priest by him. From the great saint, Proclus received a profound understanding of Holy Scripture and learned to present his thoughts in a polished form. In 429, he preached his famous sermon on Incarnation and defended the title of the ‘Theotokos’ before Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, himself. This sermon was later made part of the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, at which Nestorius was deposed. It was during the time of Proclus that the Trisagion prayers came into use.

Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it luster and joy. He bore the world’s sins and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles.

For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Savior, and the whole world is filled with joy.

Today’s feast of the Theophany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.

On the feast of the Savior’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast of the Epiphany it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.

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At Christmas we saw a weak baby, giving proof of our weakness.

In today’s feast, we see a perfect man, hinting at the perfect Son who proceeds from the all-perfect Father.

At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; at Epiphany the very source enfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.

Come then and see new and astounding miracles: the Sun of righteousness washing in the Jordan, fire immersed in water, God sanctified by the ministry of man.

Today every creature shouts in resounding song:

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Blessed is he who comes in every age, for this is not his first coming.

And who is he? Tell us more clearly, I beg you, blessed David:

The Lord is God and has shone upon us.

David is not alone in prophesying this; the apostle Paul adds his own witness, saying:

The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all men, and instructing us. Not for some men, but for all. To Jews and Greeks alike God bestows salvation through baptism, offering baptism as a common grace for all.

Come, consider this new and wonderful deluge, greater and more important than the flood of Noah’s day. Then the water of the flood destroyed the human race, but now the water of Baptism has recalled the dead to life by the power of the one who baptized.

In the days of the flood the dove with an olive branch in its beak foreshadowed the fragrance of the good odor of Christ the Lord; now the Holy Spirit, coming in the likeness of a dove reveals the Lord of mercy.

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