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This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word “epiphaneia” meaning manifestation. In the Western Rite Catholic Churches this Feast is celebrated as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi from the East.
On this feast we always read the Gospel story of the visit to the new born Christ child by astrologers or magi from the East. If you read the Gospel text carefully, however, you will notice that the magi are never identified as “kings” and their number is never specified. (We presume there were three, because there were three gifts.) The three “kings” we sing of comes to us from our verbal tradition and not from the scriptures.
The message of this feast is important and it is stated well by St. Paul in our second reading today. “………... the Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise of Jesus Christ through the Gospel.” In essence Paul is saying that Jesus came to save all people for all time. His manifestation to the magi (being Gentiles, not Jews) reminds us of this most basic fact.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah. It speaks of the restoration of Jerusalem, when the Israelites will return from their exile. The new Jerusalem will be a light to the nations for the Lord will shine upon it.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While there have been and will continue to be dramatic and powerful epiphanies of our God, I also believe that subtler epiphanies take place all the time. Can you remember a time when you experienced an epiphany of God’s presence and grace?
- If Jesus Christ came to save all people for all time, why do you suppose some people want to put limits on God’s salvific will?
- Can you find the Epiphany stained glass window in the Basilica?