In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Today, on the Eve of Theophany, we heard wonderful readings from the Old Testament, from the prophetic books, from the Epistles, and, of course, from the Gospel about the events in the wilderness, when John the Baptist, whom the prophets had foretold, came preaching repentance. He called to the people: Prepare ye the way of the Lord (Mt. 3:3). Repentance was the prerequisite for people to become ready to see God, the Son of God Incarnate who came to the world to save mankind. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight (Lk. 3: 4). This applies to each one of us. Our pride, which prevents us from living, and the wounds caused by sin, must be healed by repentance. And this is the only precondition for us to get to know God and see Him truly. You can come to confession and say something your whole life and still not get to know God. The Jews also believed that they had special knowledge, that they were “religious” people and knew the laws and the Scriptures. However, their pride and the sins of the people did not allow them to see the Messiah, to get to know Christ, to partake of the Divine grace that God has prepared for those who love Him. Pride and sin blind us and prevent our souls from blossoming, as the prophet says: And the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose (Is. 35:1). Because we don’t reform, our souls are not filled with grace. Our repentance is not true. We come to confession, mumble something as if repenting, but still cannot understand anything. Because there is no reformation.
John the Baptist said very simple things to representatives from different social classes who came to him: soldiers, publicans (tax collectors), Pharisees, and common people. He found very simple words for everyone. Active repentance is not hard. But, of course, in this sense, the Gospel story is an example for us. John the Baptist was a prophet who spoke of Christ, who baptized Christ. And at the same time he lived in the wilderness, he had no possessions. He wore coarse clothing made of camel's hair, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And living this way, he became worthy to understand much more than his contemporaries did—the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Jewish people and the Gentiles.
He saw much more and much further when he abandoned everything in this world. We are his direct opposites; we are burdened with all sorts of cares of this world, and there are as many of them as there are goods in a megamarket. An infinite number of different worries, thoughts, material gains, mental searches and finds. If you do not move away from this and do not abandon it, then it is hard to see Christ and repent truly.
We must change our lives, make efforts to prepare the way for the Lord into our hearts. This path should be as straight as possible so that the Lord can come into our souls, into our hearts, and we can truly unite with Him, and not just seemingly. And then we will become Christians, and Christ will abide in our hearts. And then the special grace of the feast and the Blessing of the Waters will be truly for our good. Both our hearts and our souls will also turn into a source of the Holy Spirit, into living water, leading to eternal life. Let us meditate on this during these days of the festive season.
Let us think about the grace the Lord has given us now completely undeservedly and make efforts to improve so that the “desert” of our hearts, “dried up” from sin and pride, can blossom with the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.