Theophany: Jesus Cleanses the Jordan

“…our Lord Jesus Christ, who for all of us and for our salvation…” (common phrase in the festal prayers of the Church)

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“…each thing that Jesus accomplished, no matter how apparently insignificant, had salvific effects. “Everything that Jesus does,” writes Jerome in his explanation of why the Gospel of Mark found it necessary to record the detail that Jesus rode on an ass when he entered Jerusalem, “is a sacrament. He is our salvation. For if the Apostle tells us, ‘Whether you eat or drink or whatever else you do, do all things in the name of the Lord’ [1 Corinthians 10:31], are not these much more our sacraments, when the Savior walks or eats or sleeps?”

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As the Gospels themselves indicate, the dynamism or radiant energy possessed by Christ extended also to his clothing, which Hilary comments on apropos of the story of the healing of the woman with the flow of blood in Matthew 9:20-22: “The power abiding in his body added a health-giving quality to perishable things, and a divine efficacy even went as far as the fringes of his garments. For God was not divisible and able to be contained, as if he could be shut up in a body.” A striking instance of the energy that radiated from Christ, finally, is associated with his baptism in the Jordan River.

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Jesus’ mere physical contact with the Jordan was enough to cleanse it and, along with it, all the waters of the earth, so as to make them suitable in turn for cleansing those who would be baptized. We find this idea as early as the beginning of the second century in Ignatius of Antioch and frequently thereafter.”   (Boniface Ramsey, Beginning to Read the Fathers, pp. 83-84)

 

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