A READING FROM THE ORATIONS OF ST GREGORY NAZIANZEN
Christ is illumined, let us shine forth with him; Christ is baptized, let us descend with him, that we may also ascend with him.
John baptizes, Jesus comes to him; perhaps to sanctify the Baptist himself, but certainly to bury the whole of the old Adam in the water; and before this and for the sake of this, to sanctify Jordan. As he is Spirit and flesh, so he consecrates us by Spirit and water.
John will not receive him: Jesus contends. I have need to be baptized by you, says the lamp to the Sun, the voice to the Word, the friend to the Bridegroom; he that is above all those who are born of women to him who is the First-born of every creature; he that leaped in the womb to him who was adored in the womb; he who was and is the Forerunner to him who was and is to be manifested. I have need to be baptized by you; add to this and for you; for he that he would be baptized by martyrdom, or, like Peter, that he would be cleansed not only as to his feet.
But further – Jesus goes up out of the water; for with himself he carries up the world and sees the heaven split open which Adam had shut against himself and all his posterity, as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword.
And the Spirit bears witness to his Godhead, for he descends upon One that is like him, as does the Voice from heaven (for he to whom witness is borne comes from thence) and like a dove seen in bodily form it bestows honour on his body, since this is also God by being deified. And moreover, the dove has from distant ages been wont to proclaim the end of the Deluge.
Let us however today venerate the Baptism of Christ, and let us celebrate the feast honourably.
Wash yourselves and keep yourselves clean. God rejoices in nothing so much as in the amendment and salvation of men, on whose behalf is every word and all the sacraments. Be cleansed so that you may be like lights in the world, a life-giving force to all other men, and stand as perfect lights beside that great Light, and learn the mystery of the illumination of heaven, enlightened by the Trinity more purely and clearly, of which even now you are receiving in a measure the One Ray from the one Godhead in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
St Gregory Nazianzen, Or 39, 14-16. 20, from The Divine Office Vol. I