The Octave Day of the Epiphany , January 13th
From a Sermon by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
I cannot restrain the outburst of my happiness on this occasion. Yes, I am uplifted in mind, and my heart is deeply moved. And thereby I am in danger of forgetting mine own meanness, in my longing for the office of the great John Baptist. Or rather, I should say, I am filled with desire to undertake the service which he performed. It is true that I am not, as was he, Christ’s Forerunner ; but at least I come, as did he, from the desert. And like him, my joy is in Christ who was, as on this day, illuminated ; or I might better say, My joy is in Christ who now doth immediate us, and that with his own splendour. For Christ is baptized!
Therefore, let us go down together with him into the deep, that likewise together with him we may go up, enlightened with his splendour.
John is baptizing ; Jesus draweth nigh. And he is come thither that perchance he may sanctify the one that now acteth as the ministrant of Baptism; and that he may beyond all doubt bury the Old Adam beneath the flood ; and that he may hallow the baptismal streams, such as of Jordan, above all other water. For he who is both Spirit and Flesh would open, to all that should ever be baptized, the power of grace, whereby we may be born again, of the water and the Spirit. But lo! The Baptist putteth him off ; nevertheless Jesus insisteth. I, saith John, have need to be baptized of thee! So speaketh the Candle to the Sun ; so saith the Voice to the Word.
Jesus cometh up from the waters! In the Second Adam all mankind hath been washed. The whole world, which had been submerged, is uplifted. And thereupon the heavens were opened unto him. Not cleft merely, but set open wide! For those same heavens were, by the sin of the First Adam, closed to himself, and to us his posterity, what time the flaming swords of the Cherubim barred the gates of paradise. But the heavens were opened wide to the Second Adam. And then did the Holy Ghost himself bear witness. The Spirit beareth witness to one who is of the same substance as himself. For witness fitly cometh down from heaven unto one who is from thence.