An upfront and honest relationship. The feast of Theophany.

volgograd_bogoyavlenie_tsaritsynAs a culture, we hold onto, proclaim, and defend the principles of truth, and clarity. We expect our leaders and politicians to be truthful with their promises and we expect them to be transparent in their processes and procedures. We even assume this principle from our favorite sports. We expect honesty and no cheating no matter how great the prize might be.

With both politics and sports, rules can be bent, and perspectives skewed, and it is amazing how we can legitimize it, and maybe even understand it when it happens. But when our loved ones and friends lie, and veil their intentions and desires to us, it cuts us to the heart, leaving a void where once trust, love and peace was held.

If there is no honesty, truth or clarity in our relationships, how could they at least be considered stable or productive, and at most life-giving? Why should this be any different with spirituality, and more to the point with Jesus Christ?

Whereas we can be so dogmatic about our expectations of a democratic process, or a monogamous relationship, or whether the puck was in the crease, so many of us (even Orthodox Christians) tend to be much fuzzier about who God is, and why He is important. We chalk it up to a “personal opinion”. Any relationship with spouses, friends, and family built on “personal opinions” that are loose and fuzzy, is akin to building a house on a sandy beach during a monsoon, when a firm foundation of truth and clarity is at hand.

We as Christians are given this foundation in the feast of Theophany (literally the revelation of God). At the beginning of His ministry, we, through the pages of scripture and tradition, are introduced to who God is. There are no symbolic or cryptic messages to decipher (a la The Da Vinci Code), nor are any mental acrobatic exercises needed (like some eastern guru would do). The revelation in scripture and tradition is truthful and transparent, like any life-giving relationship, freely given to the wise and foolish, the rich and poor, the evil and good alike.

Jesus the “only begotten Son of God”, He who is “the way the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:16), willingly humbles Himself, by asking, even imploring to be baptized by John. And by this, the simple religious washing for the repentance of sins, is changed into encounter with the divine, with fire, in our baptism (Mt. 3:11, Lk. 3:16). Jesus is confirmed as the Christ by the “Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Giver of Life”, who at creation hovered above the waters, and now descends upon Him in the form of a dove, and by this sanctifying the waters of our baptism.

Jesus is proclaimed by the Father to be the “Maker of heaven and earth”. This witness of love and communion between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, is made manifest in our baptism, in our communion with the Body of Christ, the Church.

It is not a coincidence that we start off our lives as Christians in a baptism like His, with all truth and clarity lavished upon us, that we can live to it having died to half-truths and lies, veils, and masks. I would not accept a relationship that did not offer that in the beginning, and out of love. Why would I accept a faith, or believe without the same?IMG_1565