Epiphany - The Skies are Open
<< Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱος μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα >>
(Ματθ. γ' 17)
"This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased"
Jesus is about to embark on His public ministry, a journey that will have as its conclusion and climax, His Passion. He has come to St John the Baptist in the wilderness near the Jordan River to be baptised. He has "increased in wisdom and age, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
St Matthew tells us that the skies opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord in the form of a dove, as a voice from above was heard: "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased".
The anointment of Christ by the Holy Spirit (ο Χριστός meaning "The Anointed One"), attests to His divine stature as the Great High Priest of the New Covenant. He is also the perfect Man as God’s will and design intended. This underlines the absolute truth that our own perfection can only be achieved through being filled with the Holy Spirit.
God’s initial and divine will regarding Adam was that Adam remain in complete communion with the Creator, and that he eventually become one with God via the Holy Spirit. However, this design was undermined when Adam succumbed to his pride and turned his attention towards himself. He had placed his own will above God’s. As a consequence, death entered the world and the heavens were closed. Up until the baptism of Christ, where we see the skies reopened in a spiritual sense, and a "return to the Father" is effected.
Now, the eternal Word of the Father, the New Adam, in Whom the Father shows His "good will" (εὐδοκία), comes to reconcile the fallen and muddied image and likeness of God. This is why the angels at the birth of Christ announced the long-awaited time for man’s reconciliation with God had finally arrived: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2: 14).
May we continue to strive for perfection with the help of our Lord, and to pursue opportunities that will enable us to be continually filled with the Comforter, the Spirit of God.
First published in Lychnos, Dec 2008.