13 January 2011

Become a Living Force for All Mankind

Today the Carthusian Order celebrates the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. A portion of what the monks reflected on at Matins is from 'In Sancta Lumina' by Saint Gregory Nazianzen. Here's an exceprt from that.

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in that light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with Him, and rise with Him.

Saint John is baptizing when Jesus approaches. Perhaps He comes to sanctify the one who is baptizing; no doubt He comes to bury sinful humanity in those waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for the sake of mankind and in readiness for us; He Who is Spirit and Flesh comes to start a new creation through the Holy Spirit and water.

The Baptist protests but Jesus insists. Then John says: 'I ought to be baptized by You'. He is the lamp in the presence of the Sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all who are born of woman in the presence of the Firstborn of all creation, John who leapt in his mother Elizabeth's womb in the presence of Him Who was adored in the womb, the precursor and future forerunner in the presence of Him who has already come and is to come again. 'I ought to be baptized by you'; we should also add, 'and for you', for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Saint Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.

Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with Him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are torn open. The Spirit comes to Him as an equal, bearing witness to His Godhead. A Voice proclaims to Him from heaven, His place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that long ago announced the end of the flood and thus gives honor to the Body Who is One with God.

Today let us honor Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of His people, for whom His every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, a light shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great Light, bathed in the glory of Him Who is the Light of Paradise. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling Light of the Most Holy Trinity, as now you have received, though not in its fullness, a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the One God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.