Jan6FriJanuary 6, 2017
The Feast of Epiphany has a long and honoured tradition in the Church, ranking for a time as one of the three most important celebrations along with Easter and Pentecost. Over time its meaning has morphed to include the Baptism of our Lord, to the Blessings of Baptismal Water, to the Visitation of the Magi. It has also had secondary association with Miracle of Cana and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. The lections of the day, beginning with the first Evensong, are all about revealing the Son of God and making him evident to the world.
The name Epiphany means to make manifest, or, which in being made know is demonstrated to be self-evident. That which is being made self-evident and undeniable is that the light of God has come into the world (that we might live through him). Epiphany is referred to as the “Season of Light.” Pope Leo the Great referred to Epiphany as a theophany. The divine nature of Jesus is revealed at the time of his baptism with the descend in bodily form of the Holy Spirit and the pronouncement of God, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
It is in the acknowledgement that God has come into the world that the Magi present their gifts and St Paul declares himself to be prisoner to his love which are the eucharistic propers. With the evening readings Jesus seen to be the everlasting light, and He demonstrates his divinity in the changing of the water into wine; a reading rich with the overlays of meaning.
These moments of theophany mark turning points both in the ministry of Christ and spiritual understanding of those who follow him. With his baptism, the first disciples recognize and follow him; “Sir, where do you live.” (John 1:38) At the wedding in Cana the disciples began to believe in him. On the mount of the transfiguration Jesus was revealed as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. In Jerusalem, when the Greeks ask to see Jesus, He knows that the time of his passion has arrived. With each theophany the ministry of Jesus changes direction towards its ultimate fulfillment on the altar of Calvary. Each time his followers catch a fuller vision and deeper understanding of all that God in his love has purposed for our lives.
It was for this knowledge that the Magi defied the perils of their desert journey and even risked the wrath of King Herod.
In this Feast of Epiphany, God demonstrated his love for us: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)