In my final summer at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, my classmates and I had the great blessing of visiting the Holy Land, Constantinople/Istanbul, and Mount Athos. Just one of the blessings on that trip was to visit the river Jordan where our Lord was baptized. I remember thinking that the river would be a large and mighty river however I was surprised when we arrived to see that it was small, maybe 20 feet wide, and was very humble compared to what my expectations were.

As we approach the Theophany of our Lord, I couldn’t help thinking about this disappointment between how humble the Jordan River was compared to what I thought it should be. I’m sure for many of us, we are living in a similar form of disappointment. Most likely our Christmas celebrations, both liturgically and with our families, were much humbler than what we would have liked or expected them to be due to COVID-19. Perhaps as we look forward to Theophany, we are frustrated by the diminished celebration we will have of this great feast as well. Or perhaps we are disappointed by the political, social, and challenges our world faces, hoping things would be different but sadly realizing they aren’t.

Rather than be depressed, let us realize the spiritual reality behind what we face. Despite my disappointment with the River Jordan, when I waded into the river, the humble grace laying within renewed me. I realized that it wasn’t the physical size or grandeur of the river that mattered but the experience our Lord imprinted on it through His incarnate body that mattered. It was in the simplicity and humility of our Incarnate Savior that the revelation of our Triune God could be revealed for the first time; clearly and undeniably for all time.

Is this not the spiritual teaching of our faith? Orthodoxy is paradoxy; Christ-like humility brings forth the Glory of God. Only after Christ humbly submits to baptism does the Glory of God become revealed. Interesting enough, immediately after Christ’s humble baptism, He goes into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan to show the world His divine glory without humility. Satan wastes no time trying to sabotage this model of Godly humility that leads to Godly glory. Satan tempts our Lord to ignore humility and simply use His power to reveal His glory.

During this time of COVID-19, social unrest, and political divisions, we have countless temptations before us to glory in our own correctness, what facts and logic we know to defend our position. It is so tempting, just as it was for our Lord, to use power and the weapons of the world to reveal a false glory, vain glory. As we enter the Feast of Theophany let us return to our Lord’s example and enter into the paradoxical reality that only through humility can orthodoxy, ‘right glory’, be revealed. This is the glory that our world needs to see during these soul-draining and factious times; a humble spirit that unveils the glory of our Lord. May we all earnestly embody the spirit of our Lord’s humility in this season of Theophany through all our actions towards our leaders, friends, co-workers, and even our enemies. May we approach them all with a humble heart that seeks to see where their wounds and struggles are and not gloriously triumph over them with power. For when we live humility, we slowly but surely allow God’s glory, and not our glory, to shine on our hurting world; bringing illumination and healing to all the brokenness around us. Amen.