Friday After Epiphany
1 John 5:5-13
Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood.1 John 5:5-6a
Through Jesus Christ, Adam and the cosmos returned to the Father from alienation to communion, and from estrangement to divine friendship.
The concrete events of salvation history prefigure humanity’s return to the Source. Scripture compares the Body of Christ plunged into the Jordan River to the earth washed in the primeval Flood of Genesis:
God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now.1 Peter 3:20-21
Abraham’s sacrifice of his beloved son Isaac prefigured the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross (Genesis 22:1-14).
Ultimately, water and blood find their archetypes in the divine being: the pure glory and the self-emptying (kenotic) love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s glory and love poured forth their energetic radiance at the events of Christ’s baptism and crucifixion.
At the baptism of Christ, John the Baptist testified that he saw the heavens open and “the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him” (John 1:32). A voice from the heavens declared, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11; Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22).
The immersion of the Son of God in the waters of the earth points to his eternal immersion in the waters of the Father’s Womb:
The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.” Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.Catechism of the Catholic Church 694
Jesus embraced the Cross as the apex of kenotic love and glory in a world divided by sin and strife: “Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began” (John 17:5). The bloodless and eternal kenosis of Trinitarian perichoresis revealed itself in the fullness of time by the shedding of Christ’s blood on the earth.
Jesus’ eternal self-offering to the Father expressed itself in the Garden of Gethsemane to his last breath on the Cross:
Not my will but yours be done.Luke 22:42; Matthew 26:39
Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.Luke 23:34
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.Luke 23:46
Apart from “the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26), no one can believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Corinthians 12:3).
The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.1 John 5:6b-8
The baptism of the Lord that purified the waters of the earth regenerated and restored humankind to its “original blessedness” in the Womb of the Father.1 St. Maximus of Turin calls it “the feast of his birthday,” the second after his nativity.2 This second “birthday” coincided with his eternal birth in the Womb of the Father as eternity touched time and deified it.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and hearts to know and live the Truth who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit manifested in time through water and blood (John 16:13).
1 St. John of Damascus writes: “The regeneration, however, takes place in the spirit: for faith has the power of making us sons (of God), creatures as we are, by the Spirit, and of leading us into our original blessedness.” From An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 9.
2 From a sermon by Saint Maximus of Turin, Liturgy of the Hours, Friday After Epiphany, Office of Readings.