Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Contemplate the fountain which gushes forth" (Pseudo-Hippolytus)

This magnificent passage occurs in today’s Office of Readings. It captures the wonder of the Incarnation as well as the dimensions of grace we received in our Baptism into Christ. 

Pseudo-Hippolytus??? Various writings of the 3rd and 4th century were ascribed incorrectly to Hipploytus of Rome (170–235). Among these are the writings of an otherwise unknown 4th century author therefore known by scholars as “Pseudo-Hippolytus.” The following paragraphs are from his On the Holy Theophany 2. 6-8, 10.

Jesus came to John, and received baptism at his hands. Could anything be more wonderful? The boundless river that gladdens the City of God is washed by a few drops of water. The source without limits that engenders life for all mankind and is beyond all understanding is covered by the poor waters of this world. He who is present everywhere and is absent nowhere, incomprehensible to the angels and withdrawn from the gaze of man, has come to baptism as was his good pleasure, And behold the heavens were opened to him, and a voice was heard saying: This is my beloved Son with whom am well pleased.

One who is loved generates love, and an immaterial light generates light inaccessible. This is he who is called the son of Joseph, and he is my only-begotten according to the divine essence. This is my beloved Son. Hungry is he who nourished unnumbered thousands, toiling is he who refreshes the toilers; he has nowhere to lay his head but controls all things by his hand; he suffers and yet heals all suffering; he is buffeted by blows and presents the world with freedom; he is pierced in his side and restores the side of Adam.

But attend carefully to me, I pray, for I wish to return to the fountain of life, and contemplate the fountain which gushes forth and brings its remedies. The Father of immortality sent his immortal Son and Word into the world. He came to men to wash them with the Spirit. To regenerate us to incorruptibility, of mind and body, he breathed into us the spirit of life, and clothed us with the armour of incorruptibility.

If then a man has been made immortal, he will also be divine. If indeed he becomes divine by water and by the Holy Spirit by regeneration from the font, he is also found to be joint heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Therefore I proclaim with the voice of the herald: Come, all ye tribes of the nations, to the immortality of baptism. For this is the water combined with the Spirit – water by which Paradise is watered, the earth is enriched, the plants receive increase of growth, the animals bring forth young, and, to put it comprehensively, water through which man is reborn and made alive, in which Christ was baptized; into which the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove. 

For he who descends with faith into this laver of regeneration renounces the devil and commits himself to Christ; he denies the enemy and confesses Christ to be God; he lays aside slavery, he puts on adoption; he returns from his baptism gleaming like the sun, pouring out rays of righteousness, and, what is the most important point, he is returning as a son of God and a joint heir with Christ. To him be glory and power with his sacred, good and quickening Spirit, both now and always and to all ages of eternity. Amen.


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