Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Feast of The Epiphany Of The Lord

Epiphany, meaning 'appearance' or 'revelation', is a Christian feast intended to celebrate the "shining forth" or revelation of God in human form, to the Gentiles, in the person of Jesus. Some Christians commemorate the visitation of the Magi to the child Jesus on this day, while others use the day to commemorate the baptism of Jesus as an adult. It is also called Theophany, especially by those commemorating Christ's baptism.

The observance had its origins in the Eastern Christian Churches, and was originally a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, and included the commemoration of: his birth; the visit of the Magi, or "Wise Men", who arrived in Bethlehem; all of Jesus' childhood events, up to and including his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and even the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in Galilee. However, it seems fairly clear that the Baptism was the event predominantly commemorated.

The date of the feast was very early fixed on January 6. Ancient Liturgies speak of Illuminatio, Manifestatio, Declaratio (Lighting, Manifestation, Declaration); cf. Matthew 3:13–17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1–11; where the Baptism and the Marriage at Cana are dwelt upon. Christian Churches have traditionally emphasized the "Revelation to the Gentiles" mentioned in Luke, where the term Gentile means all non-Jewish peoples. The Biblical Magi, who represent the non-Jewish peoples of the world, paid homage to the infant Jesus in stark contrast to Herod the Great (King of Judea) who sought to kill him. Saint John Chrysostom identified the significance of the meeting between the Magi and Herod's court: "The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews. In this way the birth of Jesus would be made known to all."

Pretty much the end of the Christmas Season today, hope yours was well!


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