The Region of Theophany

As we continue our transformative pilgrimage through the province of Christmas toward the province of Theophany, let us hearken to the universal characteristics of the land in which we journey – the Kingdom of God (the land of our pilgrimssalvation).  I have underlined the themes I noted as I reflected on it during my quiet time this morning. Perhaps you will be blessed by what I have noted.

Fr. Thomas

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From a homily by St. Basil the Great

God on earth, God among us! No longer the God who gives his law amid flashes of lightning, to the sound of the trumpet on the smoking mountain, within the darkness of a terrifying storm, but the God who speaks gently and with kindness in a human body to his kindred. God in the flesh! It is no longer the God who acts only at particular instants, as in the prophets, but one who completely assumes our human nature and through his flesh, which is that of our race, lifts all humanity up to him.

BasilHow, then, you will say, did the light come everywhere, through one sole person? In what manner is the Godhead in the flesh? Like fire in iron: not by moving about, but by spreading itself. The fire, indeed, does not thrust itself toward the iron, but, remaining where it is, it distributes its own strength to it. In doing so, the fire is in no way diminished, but it completely fills the iron to which it spreads. In the same manner, God the Word who ‘dwelt among us’ did not go outside himself; the Word which was ‘made flesh’ underwent no change; heaven was not deprived of him who controlled it and the earth received within itself him who is in heaven.

Look deeply into this mystery. God comes in the flesh in order to destroy the death concealed in flesh. In the same way as remedies and medicines triumph over the factors of corruption when they are assimilated into the body, and in the same way as the darkness which reigns in a house is dispelled by the entry of light, so death, which held human nature in its power, was annihilated by the coming of the Godhead. In the same way as ice, when in water, prevails over the liquid element as long as it is night, and darkness covers everything, but is dissolved when the sun comes up through the warmth of its rays: so death reigned till the coming of Christ; but when the saving grace of God appeared and the sun of justice rose, death was swallowed up in this victory, being unable to endure the dwelling of the true life among us. O the depth of the goodness of God and of his love for all of us!

Let us give glory to God with the shepherds, let us dance in choir with the angels, for ‘this day a Saviour has been born to us, the Messiah and Lord.’ He is the Lord who has appeared to us, not in his divine form in order not to terrify us in our weakness, but in the form of a servant, that he might set free what had been reduced to servitude. Who could be so faint-hearted and so ungrateful as not to rejoice and exult in gladness for what is taking place? This is a festival of all creation. (Celebrating the Seasons, pg. 53-54, by Robert Atwell, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999)

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One thought on “The Region of Theophany

  1. Father Thomas,

    The only way one can even begin to communicate about the wonder of the incarnation is through metaphor. I am beginning to wonder if the whole of creation is to provide the inventory of metaphor which allows us to approach the hem of the garment of understanding Him. This homily from St. Basil is rich in that metaphor. Thank you.

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