An interesting homily on the Epiphany by St. Proclus of Constantinople of the Eastern Church.
“Today’s feast of the Epiphany manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas… At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; at Epiphany the very source unfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.
On the feast of the Savior’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.”
Not only the Jordan but the sea and every river, the Nile, the rivers of Babylon, even the Hudson are blessed when Jesus is baptized.
The United States Geological Survey has a wonderful site on water. Water is everywhere, not only in the seas and rivers, but in the air, the foods we eat, even our bodies. 71% of the earth’s surface is water. 60% of our bodies is water. It’s a precious gift.
In the Sacrament of Baptism water’s a powerful sign that the Word of God, Jesus Christ, comes into creation bringing life.
Usually around this time one of the local New York papers carries the story of the Greek Archbishop of New York throwing a cross into the Hudson River, which is then retrieved by some hardy Greek divers.
The waters of the Hudson this time of year are like the world itself now, grim and cold, but they have Christ’s blessing, however it seems.
A gesture of optimism. I think the eastern church makes the case better than the western church. The waters are holy the world over. The Spirit is at work in the world already, even before the gospel gets there.