I’ve always been drawn to the Epiphany which, as I’m sure you know, means “appearance” or “manifestation.” Basically, it’s the Christian feast that celebrates the “shining forth” or revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus.
Interestingly, the feast originated in the Eastern Church as the anniversary of the baptism of the adult Jesus, and is known as the Feast of the Theophany. In the West, Epiphany commemorates the visitation of the Magi (the “three wise men”) to the child Jesus. In both cases the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world, and the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Known to have been observed earlier than 194 CE, Epiphany is older than the celebration of Christmas and has always been a festival of the highest rank.
The eve of Epiphany is called Twelfth Night, and the day itself is sometimes referred to as Twelfth Day. This is because the West generally acknowledges a twelve-day festival, starting on December 25, and ending on January 5, known as Christmastide or the twelve days of Christmas.
Traditionally, Christmas Trees and decorations are taken down on the day of (or after) Epiphany.
Following is a reflection and a prayer inspired by the Epiphany. Both are written by John Surette, CSJ Associate, and are taken from Winter’s Wisdom, the Congregation of St. Joseph-produced booklet that I’ve been using as my Advent guide for the past month.
The Magi were professionals when it came to relating to the stars, relating to them not only as objects to be studied but as subjects that have something to reveal. They were attentive to the marvels of God’s Universe and they searched for truth in the wonders of Creation. They allowed that truth to wash up onto the shores of their consciousness and into their souls. They searched with faith and with a willingness to believe in whatever truth they found. Their experience was that their search would result in an enlightenment regarding the meaning of human life on this Earth.
Creator God, the truth is that the whole Universe - from the farthest galaxy to the innermost atomic particle, from the rivers and the prairies to all humankind - reveals something of You and offers some enlightenment about the meaning of our lives on this Earth. May we be open to this revelation and live accordingly.
See also the previous Wild Reed post:
What We Can Learn from the Story of the Magi
My Advent Prayer for the Church
Thomas Merton on “the Advent Mystery”
Clarity and Hope: A Christmas Reflection
Image: “The Journey of the Magi” (1894) by James Jacques Joseph Tissot.