And Merry Christmas to those celebrating on the old calendar!
The Feast of Holy Theophany (Epiphany) is celebrated on January 6. For the Greek Orthodox, it commemorates the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus Christ, where all the persons of the Trinity were manifest, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:13-17):
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John (the Baptist) at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
As Christians, we too, are baptized for the remission of sins and to be initiated into Christ’s church. Our baptism is symbolic of Christ’s death and resurrection. When we are immersed in the water we die to our old sinful selves, and when we are raised out of the water, we are raised into our new selves or born again into Christ. During baptism we renounce the works of the devil and dedicate ourselves to a life with Christ. For the Orthodox, baptism is a supernatural transformation, which mystically unites us to Christ through the Holy Spirit who takes residence within us.
The Baptism of Christ initiated His three-year ministry. Immediately after Jesus was baptized, He was “led by the Spirit to go into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted 40 days and 40 nights” (Matthew 4:1-2). After this time of trial and suffering, the devil left Him and the angels came and ministered to Him.