The Epiphany, also known as Theophany in the East, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child, and thus Jesus’ physical manifestation to the Gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Theophany commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God.
The Epiphany has been celebrated since the end of the second century, even before the Christmas holiday was established. It is commonly known as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Day, or the Feast of Epiphany. It means ‘manifestation’ or ‘showing forth’. It is also called Theophany (‘manifestation of God’), especially by Eastern Christians.
The biblical story referenced during this celebration is from Matthew 2:1-12, which narrates the story of the Magi (or three wise men) – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – who followed a bright star that led them to Christ.
Epiphany is an important feast in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. It signifies God’s physical manifestation to all people through his son Jesus Christ. The visitation of the Magi symbolizes that Jesus was recognized as king by Jewish shepherds and Gentile wise men.
During Mass on Epiphany, the Gospel reading recounts the journey of the Magi. The priest’s homily often reflects on the significance of the Magi’s visit and the importance of recognizing Jesus as our Savior. The liturgical color for Epiphany is white, symbolizing purity, holiness, and joy.
Reflecting on Epiphany as Christians, we are invited to ponder on the manifestation of Jesus in our own lives. Just as the star guided the Magi to Jesus, God’s grace guides us towards His son. We are invited to recognize Jesus daily and be open to His guidance and love. It also encourages us to be like the Magi, who were willing to journey far and seek Christ.
Epiphany also has a communal aspect. It calls for Christians to be ‘stars’ guiding others towards Jesus. As we celebrate Epiphany, we are reminded to share God’s love with others and manifest Christ in our actions.
In conclusion, Epiphany is a celebration of God’s manifestation in Jesus Christ. As we reflect on Epiphany 2024, we are called to recognize God’s presence in our lives and guide others towards Him.