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Epiphany 2018


A blessed Epiphany to each of you!  Epiphany defined is “Manifestation, Appearance, To show forth, Reveal, Declare”.  It is Christ’s Epiphany to us, Christ revealed to the whole world, the Gentiles.


Epiphany was first celebrated in the Eastern church in the 2nd century.  It was not until the 4th century the celebration spread to the Western churches.


When the Western churches accepted the feast of January 6th as a commemoration of the visit of the Maggi, they introduced the emphasis on our Lord’s Epiphany as a manifestation to the gentiles.


St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:1-12 “When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it is now being revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit, but the gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body and co-partner in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel”. 

The background: The star in the East and the visit of the Magi is a part of secular history as well.  The Magi were familiar with and sympathetic to the Jewish expectation about the Messiah.


Synagogues existed throughout the East and held a wide influence.  Joined with the widely held belief in Jewish circles of a Messiah, being eminent, the existence of Messianic expectations throughout the East was affirmed not only by Josephus, but also by the heathen historians Tacitus and Suetonius.  While Kepler the astronomer confirmed the remarkable colored iridescent star which the Magi followed.  The incident also illustrates the true relations between science and religion.  In the persons of the Magi, sicence paid homage to religion.  The Magi were men of science of the period and their sicence brought them to Christ.


The Gifts:  It was and is still the Eastern custom not to approach monarchs and princes without gifts.  The Magi brought to Jesus the most costly products of the countries in which they lived.  This shows that nothing is too precious to be used in the service of God.  Pointing out that art and love of beauty are among God’s greatest gifts to man and it si right that man in worshipping Him should render of his best to God.  The mystical interpretation of the gifts is: Gold – symbolizing Christs royalty; Frankincense – His Divinity; Myrrh – His passion.


They came, they brought gifts, they worshipped and the protected Him.  Would you have been a wise man?  Would you have made the dangerous journey? Would you have taken the time, possibly a year or more?  Would you have brought the gifts?  Would you have protected the Christ child?  What star do you follow, the heavenly star of Light and Faith or the darkness of the worldly things of this Earth.


Today we celebrate the Octave of the Feast of the Epiphany.  When God came down, showing himself through the revelation and manifestation in the person of his son Jesus Christ, not only as a savior for his people, the Jews, but also with the clear message that salvation was open to all people, Jew and Gentile alike.


The story of the Epiphany of Jesus is not just one Epiphany but of several, each one following upon the other.  The 1st Epiphany of course was Christmas night, Christ coming into the world.  The manifestation to the Shepherds is the 2nd Manifestation.  And the one we celebrate today, the coming to the Gentiles.


In the Church’s Liturgy, she celebrates several more.  Next will be Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan by John; “And the voice came from the cloud saying this is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”.  His whole life is a manifestation, a revealing, a showing forth by what he did as he healed the sick and raised the dead to life.


Throughout his entire life on Earth it was a revelation of who he was until the greatest revelation of all, His resurrection.  Remember at the time of his death, the centurion revealed who he was “Indeed this was the son of God”.  And the final Epiphany, he was raised from the dead showing us our resurrection as well.


The story of the Magi contains all the central themes of Matthew’s Gospel in a nutshell.  The last four verses of Matthew’s Gospel are for us.  He commissions his disciples “Go into the whole world and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”.  You see this Feast of Epiphany and the Gospel reading are so very rich in symbolism and truth.


We follow Christ by the light of faith and that light of faith is brighter and made stronger by our reading and following His word, through prayer, and in the Sacraments of the Church.  We seek and find Christ at times in some of the most unlikely places, just as the Magi did, in a humble stable or in others.


The Magi offered their symbolic gifts, what is it we bring to our Lord?  It is the gift of our whole selves, mind, body, and soul with the complete surrender of our wills to His.


There is a beautiful Eucharistic tie to this because as the Gold and Frankincense, and Myrrh were things that were created by God in the first place, so in a few minutes we are going to place on the Altar things created by God, bread and wine; then that offering is transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ and our bodies and souls are nourished by Him.


Epiphany tells us that God has seen fit not to limit salvation to a small ethnic group but to open it up to everybody, to the whole world.  All people are welcome in the kingdom of God. 


Today you hear people talk of their own personal, modern day epiphany, signifying a change or revelation in their personal life.  An awakening a new and better course in their life.  That is well and good, but I would encourage we all participate in the “Christian Epiphany”.  Seek the Christ as did the wise men 2000 years ago.  Bring your gift of complete and total devotion and submission to Jesus.


Henry Drummond, the well known Christian author and scientist of the early 1900’s closed one of his talks before a packed audience in Glasgow’s largest hall: “Gentlemen, I beseech you to seek the Kingdom of God first or not at all.  I promise you a miserable time if you seek it second. 


Make the Epiphany of Christ your Epiphany, today and throughout the year.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

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