(Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7)
The manifestation of our Lord and God Jesus Christ in the world, as celebrated on Holy Epiphany, is spoken of in today’s Apostolic Reading. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was ignored by humanity, and it was only 30 years later that he appeared publicly in the Jordan. At the time of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, God the Father reveals Him as His dear Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends upon Jesus to confirm the voice of God the Father.
The Apostle Paul, as we heard today, writes to his Disciple Titus in a laudatory spirit: “the grace of God has appeared (that is Christ) to bring salvation to all men” (Titus 2:11).
How and why did He save us? To this question the Apostle replies: "He saved us not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" (3:5). God in His great love and compassion had used many means to save people, and ultimately He descended upon the earth, as the Prayer of the Service of the Great Blessing of Water says: "O Master, You could not bear to see humanity defeated by the devil, and so You came to save us” Here is the magnitude of God's compassion: He Who is sinless, the Holy One, sacrificed Himself for us. He did not impose on us any sacrifice, although it would be fair, since we are the guilty ones. The means He used for our cleansing from sin is completely painless: "He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (3:5). Jesus, being sinless, had no need for baptism. But He accepted baptism, in order to sanctify the waters of the Jordan River and all of nature, as we chanted during the Matins Praises: "Christ is baptized with us. He sanctifies the water, and it becomes a cleansing for our souls".
In today’s exaposteilation we chanted: "The Savior has appeared, the Grace and the Truth”. On His part, our Lord and Savior Christ did everything for our salvation. Therefore, what do we have to do to appropriate the salvation He has offered to us? The Apostle Paul provides us with an answer to this question today: We ought to turn our attention and our struggle to three different directions:
Firstly, to our inner world, so that we may eliminate all disrespect and sinful desires, which, if we do not expel them in time, they grow large and compel us to commit sins; and to live in temperance, purity and modesty.
Secondly, to our fellow human beings; we ought to behave with justice and not just look after our own interests, but also to seek what is good for others, since we are all brothers.
Thirdly, to God; we ought to live with obedience to the will of God, with reverence and piety until the end of our life here on earth (verse 12).
Furthermore, we will be incredibly strengthened in our spiritual struggle, and our lives will be beautified, if we live in the hope of the blissful coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Chrst. During His second coming, the Lord will appear in all His glory in order to invite us to enjoy with Him the eternal blessedness of His kingdom.
Because of all these blessings, my Brothers and Sisters, let us thank the manifested Lord from the bottom of our hearts for all that He has done for us and let us cry out: "We glorify You, Only begotten Son of God… You came and saved us. We declare that grace and mercy belong to You, and we do not make a secret of Your goodness” (Service of the Great Blessing of Water).