The Epiphany of our Lord
The Epiphany, or the Manifestation of Christ, has been celebrated in the Christian tradition in a variety of ways. The Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 completes the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ and it inaugurates a period where the declaration of the arrival and manifestation of our saviour in and to the world becomes increasingly public and universal.
In the Eastern Churches the Epiphany is Christmas, in the Western Church the feast is associated with the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. The magi, mentioned in St Matthew’s gospel, are sparingly described and are meant to be wise sages or astrologers from the world beyond the Jewish horizon, underlining the significance of the birth of Jesus for the whole universe.
The three gifts they bring have given them an entirely folkloristic identity as three kings. In continental Catholicism Epiphany also celebrates the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, with water being blessed and the faithful publicly renewing their baptismal vows, covenanting themselves anew to God, as God has covenanted himself to us anew in the sending of his son.
The plethora of themes for this coming season focusing on the significance of Christ in our lives and in the life of the world should give us enough to contemplate and not forget what happened to us at Christmas.
31 December 2017