Arise, shine out, Jerusalem; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses' arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.
On January 6th in Ireland - after the 12 days of Christmas - we celebrate the Solemnity of Epiphany which is the feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ to the world.
On this feast, Western Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles; Eastern Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians.
St Matthew tells us (2:1-12) that Wise Men came from out of the east seeking the new born child as the Messiah of the whole world not just for the people of Israel. Their homage to him upon locating him in Bethlehem is representative of the whole world who adore the Holy Child and recognise his Divine Kingship, he who is the Light of the World.
"They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."The feast of the Epiphany in the latin tradition focuses on the manifestation or showing of the Child Jesus to the Magi or Wise men who have come to seek the new King of the Jews. The three wisdom seekers represent the gentiles; those outside the covenanted community of Israel to whom the Messiah will also come. Where the shepherds represented the Chosen People, the three magi represent all those who truly search and seek for God in our world even if from out side our community and experiences.
Epiphany demands that like these kings we should return to our own countries a different way, carrying to all those we meet the light of Christ. "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth," says the Epistle of the Epiphany Mass, "and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon Thee, and His glory shall be seen upon Thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in Thy light..." These words may be applied to us, upon whom the light of Christ has indeed risen, and who have the responsibility to radiate that light in the darkness of our own world. It is clear how much the feast of Epiphany must mean to all who are engaged in the apostolate and are striving to extend the kingdom of Christ.
Reflections and thoughts for the feast:
- Churchyear - Epiphany
- Catholic Culture - Epiphany
- Epiphany: What you seek is seeking you
- 10 Things You Might Not Have Known About the Feast of the Epiphany - How to celebrate Twelfth Night right this year
- Chalking the Door: Blessing Your Home for Epiphany
- Solemnity of the Epiphany: Home By Another Way - Salt + Light
- Patron Saints for Advent
- Vatican News - Reflections for the feast of Epiphany
Reading 1 - Isaiah 60:1-6
Centre for Liturgy
Word on Fire
Monastery of Christ in the Desert