Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, and the Jordan is parted and turns back, seeing the Master baptized (Troparion at the blessing of the waters).
Let us now depart in peace, in the name of the Lord, to the river and there immerse in its waters the Live-creating Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why will we immerse it? In order to remember our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was once baptized in the River Jordan. But is it only for a remembrance? No, but also to sanctify the waters. Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, and the Jordan is parted and turns back, seeing the Master baptized. Yes, at the remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, through immersion into the waters of his Life-Creating Cross, the water is sanctified, becomes holy, healing for soul and body, and dispersing all the powers of the enemy. Ordinary water is by its nature only healthy for the body, but through sanctification its nature changes, becomes better, is raised up, so that it becomes saving for body and soul.
So, listeners, I want to remind you today. Remembrance or calling upon our Lord Jesus Christ is always and in every situation saving for us. We will without fail receive some grace from the Lord, some divine aid for the soul and body, for health and salvation, if in thought and with attention, with faith and reverence we remember and call upon His name, or if we at least say: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God! Even when we pronounce the name of a kind person who is close to us in soul, who is always ready to help us in everything, our hearts feel joy and pleasure. How could our hearts not be filled with joy and gladness at the remembrance of our All-Good Lord Jesus Christ, Who, bounteous with all grace, filled with love for us and readiness to help us!
Though it is a substance without feeling, water as if feels the Lord immersing Himself in it, and therefore it is purified, sanctified, seeing the Master baptized. Could it then be that we, rational beings, do not feel it, do not become purer, holier at the remembrance of the Lord, standing as if before the face of Him, our Heavenly King? When we are in the presence of an important and honored person we immediately assume an appearance that is better, modest, respectful—as soon as he is before us. God the Father, Who loves His Only-Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is always merciful and divinely attentive to those who remember His name in His presence or ask in His name. Just the same does a mother immediately turn her affectionate gaze to those who pronounce with praise the name of her beloved son.
Yes, listeners, call upon the Son, and God the Father—your Father—and the grace of the Holy Spirit will be with you. And against our enemies, against everything that is at enmity with us, our health and salvation, we have such a powerful and invincible weapon in our Lord Jesus Christ! Yes, up to this day the demons flee from His name, and by His name are the sick healed, and deadly things do us no harm in the presence of His name (cf. Mk. 16:18). And nothing can stand before the name of the Lord. His name will help when one is overwhelmed by passion or fear, tormented by sickness of soul or body, and as if not knowing what else to do remembers, calls out His name or crosses himself with the sign of the cross.
A certain elder was laboring for his salvation in an empty pagan temple to idols. The enemies of salvation wanted to cast him out of that place. The elder struggled somewhat against their attacks, and finally they fell upon him with such boldness that he didn’t know what do to and only shouted, “Jesus, help!” The enemies immediately disappeared. The elder wept after this. “Why are you weeping?” asked an invisible voice. “Because enemies of faith and piety dare to mock God’s servants,” the elder replied. “You yourself are to blame,” the voice protested. “Why didn’t you remember Me? Didn’t you see how I helped you as soon as you called out to Me?” The elder understood the voice of Him Who spoke and fell down before the Unseen One.
Well, listeners, we sometimes complain, and are ready to murmur. Why do the passions torment us so, why do they war against us, the enemies pester and trouble us? Why do impure thoughts give us no peace, and perplexities bother us? Why do calamities bring us to despondency, and sicknesses weigh us down? Why do we not do what we love, and fall into what we hate? Why are we so quick to do evil and so lethargic to do good? Why aren’t we God’s angels, pure spirits, but are rather evil people, vile beings? So why do we forget about Jesus Christ our Lord? Why don’t we call upon Him? Why don’t we remember Him ceaselessly, as the angels in heaven eternally see the face of the Heavenly Father? After all, we are weak and infirm only without Jesus Christ, but with Him we are strong, and with Him all is possible to us. Yes, there certainly is in the world evil power, enemy power that draws us always toward evil and often into evil—it is a strong and mighty force, and it’s hard to withstand it. But it is at the same time the weakest and most powerless, and at the name of Jesus flees from us, melts like wax near the fire, disappears like the darkness at the sun’s appearance.
Thus, Christian listeners, who are remembering today the Lord Jesus Christ Who was baptized in the Jordan and thereby sanctified the nature of the waters, sanctifying it to this day! Let us more often remember and call out to Him in our purification and salvation, in the health of body and gladness of soul, in the deliverance from fear and passions, from impure thoughts and destructive desires, from attacks and sicknesses, in the casting out of everything hostile to us, and in applying all divine grace. We are always strong in the name of the Lord, and with His name, no matter where we are, everywhere in the world we are always safe and unharmed. Amen.