2023 Epiphany


Epiphany –  Jan 6 until Lent  begins Feb. 22, 2023

Adoration of the Magi – Bartholomäus Zeitblom (c. 1450 – c. 1519)

The English word “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “appearing” or “revealing.” Epiphany focuses on God’s self-revelation in Christ.  

Epiphany celebrates the twelfth day of Christmas, the coming of the Magi to give homage to God’s Beloved Child. 

The Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River with the voice from heaven that identifies Jesus as God’s son, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

More about Epiphany

The Epiphany Readings

The Epiphany readings are about travel, journey and ultimately sharing Christ’s light. But it is not easy as the opponents of Christ are present. Link to the readings:

  • Isaiah 60:1-6
  • Psalm 72:1-7,10-14
  • Ephesians 3:1-12
  • Matthew 2:1-12

    Epiphany means “appearance of the Lord.” In the East, where it started, this feast was instituted not to recall the Magi, but the birth of Jesus, the Christmas, the appearance of the light. In the West—where Christmas was celebrated on December 25—it was received in the fourth century and became the feast of the “manifestation of the light of the Lord” to the Gentiles and the universal call to all people to salvation in Christ. Magi reveal the truth of John 1:9 – the true of God, coming into the world, enlightens all creation and every person. Every child is an incarnation of our beloved Savior.

    The light image is significant. The word used for the “East” in the Gospel , “anatolai (plural)/anatole (singular)”, really means “the rising,” that is, the rising of the sun (our word “orient” comes from a Latin word with the same meaning: oriens). The word “anatole” would have had a number of resonances for the first Greek-speaking, Jewish-Christian hearers of Matthew’s story.

    First, the rising of the sun in the East readily suggests the imagery of light, which is often associated with salvation in the Bible. The Old Testament reading for the day (Isaiah 60:1-6), to which the magi story clearly alludes (see especially verses 5-6), begins with the words, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

    Isaiah’s vision of salvation, the light of the Lord shined, includes a pilgrimage of the nations, who will come to Israel’s light, to worship the God of Israel, bringing their gifts. With the story of the Magi, Matthew is telling us that this prophecy is fulfilled: guided by the light of the Messiah, the Gentiles (represented by the Magi) make their way to Jerusalem, to bring gold, frankincense and myrrh. The popular piety applied to each of these gifts a symbolic meaning: gold indicates the recognition of Jesus as king, incense represents the adoration in front of his divinity, myrrh recalls his humanity—this fragrant resin will be remembered during the passion (Mk 15:23; Jn 19:39).

    Even the story of the mounts was not invented for nothing. It is still the first reading today that speaks to us of “a troop of camels and dromedaries” that come from the East (Is 60:6). Unlike the shepherds who contemplated and rejoiced in front of the salvation that the Lord had revealed to them, the magi prostrated themselves in worship (v. 11). Their gesture recalls the court’s ceremony—the prostration and kissing of the feet of the king—or kissing the ground before the image of the deity. The pagans have therefore recognized as their king and their God, the child of Bethlehem and offered him their gifts.

    Read about the scripture appointed for Epiphany

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