On the Sunday following the feast of Theophany, Fr. Matthew Howell uses the first line of the epistle reading to talk about the gift of God’s grace in baptism, both Christ’s and ours. He talks about how baptism is a gift from God that avails us to the grace of God for the remainder of our lives if we live in union and communion with God by following his commandments. He compares the phrase “Crossing the Jordan” to “Crossing the Rubikon”, and explains how we take sacred vows at our baptism to follow God without turning back, devoting every aspect of our life to Him. Along the way, Fr. Matthew quotes Gomer Pyle.
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended, ” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
At that time, when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”