Water is a means of cleaning, but not for souls. It can remove dirt from those being baptized, but not the grime which comes from sin.
For that reason, the Healer of souls, the Father of Spirits (Heb 12:9), Christ, Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), enters into the water before us to be baptized, as we celebrate today in advance.
He draws the grace of the All-Holy Spirit from above to dwell in the water with Him, so that later when those being baptized as He was enter the water, He is there, clothing them ineffably with His Spirit, attaching Himself to them, and filling them with the grace that purifies and illumines reasonable  spirits.
And this is what the divine Paul is referring to: “As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) (“On Baptism and Repentance”, Homily Fifty Nine in “St Gregory Palamas, the Homilies”, Mount Thabor Publishing, page 487)
Is it too undignified to say “WOW!”?
This passage from St Gregory’s incredible sermon explains the reason why Christ was baptized and provides a marvelous word picture. We go into the font and are immersed in Christ, and when we emerge, we have Him on as a garment, just as we are wearing a sheet of water.
This homily is full of this kind of inspired teaching, and also serves as a detailed catechesis of the baptism ceremony. It is still VERY close to what St Gregory describes.
We just exited the Theophany period, although we are still blessing homes, and my parishioners have basically hear what St Gregory says, many times, although without the beauty and elegance that only a holy one can provide.
I have a good friend to thank for this quote, since I was recently gifted the book of St Gregory’s homilies. There will likely be more quotes, as soon as my stubby little fingers can type them.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2011. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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 “Reasonable spirits” – i.e., spirits who can reason, who have intelligence – us.
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