1 Epiphany

Gen. 1:1-5
Ps. 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

Jesus Christ came to his own (John 1:11). In the fullness of time, he was revealed to the Gentiles, the whole human world, and, lest we forget, he was manifest to all beings. A long and venerable tradition interprets the Baptism of Jesus as a sign, among other things, of the sanctification of the water in which he was immersed, and, by extension, of all creation. The world he created, he more wonderfully restored by assuming into himself all spiritual and material being, everything seen and unseen. Therefore, all creation is a sacramental sign of the presence of God. While this was true before the coming of Christ, it is infinitely more true, more pronounced, more majestic since the arrival of the Son of God in our midst.

Look for Christ in this way! “Ascribe to the Lord, you gods, ascribed to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his Name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Ps. 29:1-2).  The phrase “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” is a well-known antiphon in Morning Prayer, and it reminds the faithful of the need to offer their absolute best in the presence of God. The Church, however, makes an offering of beauty and holiness of which the Church is only one part. Nature joins in praise. “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of glory thunders . . . The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.  The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees . . . The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire” (Ps. 29:1-7).

God is in the rumbling and roaring of creation. God is present no less in a thin whisper. God is speaking a language we cannot fully know, but a language nonetheless to which our heart should be attuned. This requires deep spiritual listening. “One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another. Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard. Their sound has gone forth into all the lands, and their message to the ends of the earth” (Ps. 19:3-4). Creation has been touched and redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ. “Go into all the world,” Jesus instructed his disciples, “and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

We, the sons and daughters of God, who have emerged from the waters of Baptism, bear in our bodies, minds, and souls the sanctifying presence of Christ. That is why Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit often evoke inward and outward responses. Hearing that Christians in Ephesus had not even heard of the Holy Spirit, “Paul laid his hand on them [and] the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). Are we not profoundly moved at the realization that we are temples of the Holy Spirit?

St. Augustine describes the moment immediately after his Baptism. Imagine his experience as your own.   “I wept so much hearing the hymn and songs, delightfully and deeply moved by the voices of your singing church” (Confessions ix, iv). Even one not easily given to tears may feel and know that Jesus Christ wounds the soul in its deepest center, a wound of love.

Go into your room and close the door. Pray in secret to Christ your Lord, and he will speak secret truths to your soul, inspire thoughts in your mind, give vigor and calm to your body. Go out into all the world and meet Christ in every person and in all creation.

Look It Up:  Ps. 19

Think About It:  Listen to the day and night.