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This coming Sunday is the Sunday After Theophany, so both the Epistle Reading (Ephesians 4:7-13) and the Gospel Reading (Matthew 4:12-17) speak to the feast. One of the primary concerns of our group was seeing how these two readings spoke about the guy who does the janitorial work at the church — especially in context of the gifts given to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.

To help answer this, we looked at the structure of how the Church deals with a major feast like Theophany. There is the Sunday before, where we are prepared for the feast (last week we were told by John that “I have baptized you in water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” — Mark 1:8). Then the feast (the event) occurs — we see the revelation of God as Trinity when Christ is baptized and the Holy Spirit descends upon His humanity. Then the Church takes a moment to reflect about our proper response to this event.

Both the Epistle and the Gospel speak to this response. St. Paul tells us that the gifts given by the Holy Spirit are specifically 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. — Ephesians 4:12-13

We build up that body and work towards that unity by following the first words Christ speaks in His ministry — after His baptism, He is taken into the desert by the Holy Spirit for 40 days and upon emerging He declares:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. — Matthew 4:17

Repent — change one’s mind, turn towards God. Note that the message hasn’t changed from what John was saying in the wilderness (Matthew 3:2), nor has it changed from what the Church is saying today. There is a dramatic change in circumstance, however.

When John preached it, Christ had not begun His ministry. When Christ preached it, He had not finished His work — He had not gone to the Cross nor had He risen from the dead. Now, when the Church preaches it, we have the Risen Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father in glory with our humanity. Note that this is the same pattern we see with the Sunday Before, the Feast and the Sunday After. We prepare, we behold, we accept (and therefore act).

This, then, answers the main concern about the guy who mops the floors. He was told about this thing called the Orthodox Church by someone — a friend, a family member or through some kind of media. He then went and saw an Orthodox Church service — He saw the Kingdom of Heaven intersecting with time. Seeing this, he was moved to act. He accepted the gift of the Kingdom by becoming an Orthodox Christian (through baptism or chrismation). Having accepted this gift, he now behaves in fundamentally different way — he willingly gives his time, treasure and talent to build up the body of the Church. In his particular case, it is in mopping the floor.