Epiphany of the Lord
This feast is usually associated with the visitation of the kings from the east who traveled so very far to see the reason for the new star in the heavens. The word epiphany comes from a Greek word, “koine” or “epiphaneia” which means appearance or manifestation. This is a feast day celebrating the revelation of the God-Son as a human being in Jesus the Christ. It is traditionally celebrated on January 6. In this country, the bishops have chosen to celebrate it on the Sunday that falls in between the dates of January 2nd and January 8th. When the kings or magi visited the Christ-child, they were “foreigners” or “outsiders” who came from far-away lands because they had noticed an amazing celestial manifestation, the appearance of new star. For Eastern Christians, this feast is also called the Theopany (appearance of God). Historically, this feast day included the celebration of the Incarnation (birth) of Jesus, the visitation of the wise men [magi or kings, we do not know their names or focus on knowing them, but rather understand their significance as representing non-Jewish peoples of the world] to Bethlehem as well as all of the childhood events up to and including Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River as well as the Wedding of Cana in Galilee where Jesus performed his first miracle. The central theme, however, was Baptism. The Magi represented the non-Jewish peoples of the world who paid homage to the infant Jesus. This, of course, is in contrast to King Herod the Great who sought to kill the newborn child. Of course we know that St. Paul was the great apostle to the Gentiles, but even in the very birth event of Jesus, God is manifesting His divine love for everyone.
On a side note, in Louisiana, the feast of Epiphany is the beginning of the carnival season, during which it is customary to bake King Cakes. As in other cultures, a very small baby doll is baked inside of the cake and whoever finds it is responsible for providing the cake the next year. The time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday is sometimes called King Cake Season.
Jesus the Christ came not for the Jews alone but for all people. During the time when Christ was born the people were waiting for the coming of someone who would come and bring them out of darkness, giving them purpose and guidance, some saw this person in the form of a king, others a priest, while still others a savior. The gifts that were brought by the wisemen therefore were very significant because at the time Gold was associated with a king,
was associated with a priest, and
made the connection to the savior [more on the gifts]. So with the offering of all of these gifts to Jesus [one person encompassing all these traits] sent a message to all people that He was the person that they had been waiting for. The wise men (three kings) remind us that all nations have come to worship the Lord who was born at Bethlehem. The Three Kings had come from the East in search of the Christ child. In Western churches, the Epiphany remembers the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child, who by so doing "reveal" Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
Blessing of a Home
Prayer for the New Year
Sunday Connection - Epiphany of Our Lord