Remember January 6th

Remember January 6th!

What does that mean for you? What emotions and feeling, hopes and fears does it raise in you? Remember January 6th! For too many people, unfortunately, they will remember a day of infamy in the history of our country when our nation’s capital building was attacked and looted. Some call it an insurrection. Others have tried to revise this historical account and downplay the national disgrace of the day. What a sad memory for our country filled with many emotions!

Well, for me, I have to tell you that January 6th was a glorious day. No, I didn’t focus on what happened a year ago in the capital but I put all my attention on what happened 2000 years ago in the River Jordan. January 6th is one of the holiest days of the year in the church calendar, the day of Epiphany, or Theophany as we call it. The day that Jesus condescended to be baptized in the River Jordan by John and the day when God revealed Himself to the world as Holy Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit; the day that marked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and His ushering in the reign of the Kingdom of God. From this day forth, our Lord is pushing back the reign of Satan and darkness in this world and shining forth His divine light.

Theophany is called the Feast of Lights because Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, shined brightly His Light in our world. “I am the light of the world, whoever believes in me shall not walk in darkness but shall walk in the light of life.”

What happened a year ago on January 6th in the capital reflects the polar opposite of this Feast of Lights. Instead of a divine light that shines in darkness, a divine light that dispels fear and anger, a divine light that erases hatred and division, a divine light that proclaims truth over falsehood, for many people January 6th has become a symbol of fear, anger, hatred, lies and the bitter acrimony. It has become an expression of the extreme division reflected between both political parties and much of our country.

Passions and divisions from politics, in addition to the passions and divisions fueled by this ongoing pandemic, are pulling us apart and threatening not only our country but dividing and endangering the cohesiveness of families and friends. What darkness! What evil! The devil is the great divider and we are allowing Him to surely divide and destroy the fabric of our lives!

What a contrast to compare January 6th, Theophany, the Feast of Lights, with January 6th the day of infamy in our country’s capital. And unfortunately, too many of us give much more attention on the darkness of our divisive country and the divisiveness of this ongoing pandemic instead of on the light of Jesus Christ, the Light-Giver!

Saint Porphyrios highlights, “You don’t become holy by fighting evil. Don’t focus on evil. Focus on Christ and that will save you. What makes a person saintly is divine loveDon’t wage your struggle with arguments, but with true love. When we argue, others react. When we love people, they are moved and we win them over. When we love we think that we offer something to others, but in reality we are the first to benefit.”

Be careful. Too often we want to argue and protest and fight. We become passionate about our rights and the evils and threats of others. Yet in the process, we aren’t vigilant within our souls and we allow our passions to control and overcome us instead of keeping our passions under control. We fight for what we think is right and true yet in the process we become bitter toward our opponents and allow the passions of anger to turn into hatred; we allow our pride and ego to get the best of us. We end up giving in to the same divisive and destructive spirit that we don’t like in the other. Don’t focus on what is evil. Focus on Christ. Allow the light of Jesus to shine in our hearts. Seek what is good and true and beautiful, keeping your attention on the Divine Light.

On January 6th as the new cycles were recapping and analyzing every detail of the capital event, the Church was celebrating the Feast of Theophany and worshipping the Giver of Light. We were focusing on how this divine light changes the world IF we allow His Light to dwell in our hearts. Listen to these words of one of the prayers from January 6th:

  • - Today the Sun that never sets has dawned and the world is made radiant with the light of the Lord.
  • - Today the failings of humankind are being washed away by the waters of Jordan.
  • - Today Paradise is opened for mortals and the Sun of justice shines down on us. .
  • - Today we have been redeemed from darkness and are filled with radiance by the light of the knowledge of God.
  • - Today error has been destroyed and the coming of the Master makes for us a way of salvation.
  • - Today the Master hastens towards baptism, that he may lead humanity to divine heights.
  • - Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world has been filled with gladness.
  • - Today the Jordan River turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in the flesh, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God,
  • - Today the Master drowned the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in the River Jordan and granted to the world the Baptism of salvation.

We have a choice on how we reflect on January 6th . Does it mark the chaos of society’s divisions or does it mark the beginning of the transformation of the world, the transformation of humanity. Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, entered into our fallen world to change us. Yet God doesn’t force this change on anyone. We have to freely accept the Divine Light and allow it to shine in our darkened hearts. When we allow His Light to pierce through our fear, our anger, our ignorance, our hatred, and our pride then we will be in a position to help the world around us. Then we will be able to shine light in the darkness of the world. Then we will act out of love toward those with whom we disagree and see in them, even if we strongly disagree with them, a brother and sister created in the image of God with whom we must treat with love.

Always remember January 6th not for what happened in Washington but for what happened in the River Jordan. It is the day of Theophany, God’s appearance to the world! Jesus said “I am the light of the world, whoever believes in me shall not walk in darkness but shall walk in the light of life.” We have the choice to believe in Him and walk in His Divine Light or to focus on the fallenness of the world and to walk in darkness.

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