RENEWAL OF ALL CREATION
“Prepare, O Zebulon, / and adorn yourself, O Naphtali; / River Jordan, cease flowing / and receive with joy the Master coming to be baptized. / Adam, rejoice with our First Mother / and do not hide yourself as you did of old in Paradise; / for having seen you naked, / He has appeared to clothe you with the first garment. / Christ has appeared to renew all creation.” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of the Forefeast of Theophany)
Indeed, Christ renews “all creation” in His coming. And He does this not only “spiritually,” by enlightening us through the light of His word, as He did in His preaching in the land of Galilee as prophecied: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light...” (Mt 4: 15-16, cf. Is 9: 1-2).
Christ renews “all creation” also physically, by taking on our human body, within our historical time, and inserting Himself into our material world. The Lord’s enlightening “immersion” into our material reality is most clearly thematized in our celebration of His baptism in the Jordan. He immerses Himself in water, which makes up well over half of the human body, and covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface.
Thus the material world, including my body, is renewed and enlightened in communion with Christ. For Christians, the body is not something from which we seek escape; nor is it to be disparaged or discounted in our “spiritual” journeys. Clothed in Christ, in baptism, we once again receive the “first garment” of God’s perfect creation. We receive His purity, His perfection, in soul and in body, and no longer “hide ourselves,” as Adam and Eve did “of old in Paradise.”
Today let me remember that my “spiritual” journey also includes my Christ-enlightened body, and my care of it in my daily routine. Let me make healthy choices, whether eating, drinking, washing, or sleeping, as one “clothed in Christ.” Because He is “the enlightenment of our souls and bodies,” as we say in the Prayer of the Gospel, and to Him I send up glory today, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amen!