Feast of Epiphany
Sunday Gospel Reflection
by Sister Marilyn Kerber
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. “The Lord and ruler is coming; kingship is his, and government and power.” With these words the Church proclaims that today’s feast brings to a perfect fulfillment all the purposes of Advent. Epiphany, therefore, marks the liturgical zenith of the Advent-Christmas season (Pius Parsch). Jesus made manifest to all people.
The story of the magi is familiar to us. We understand it as the story of Jesus manifested to the Gentiles; Jesus revealed to the nations. And we experience this feast as ending the Christmas Season. There are traditions connected to this Feast, the singing of “We Three Kings,” three nuts hidden in a coffee cake, a tradition in my religious community (with those who find the nut dubbed “King” or perhaps “Queen” who may request something special for the community) and perhaps the story The Other Magi, which tells the story of a fourth wise man. Are there other traditions you recall?
Today, I invite you to consider epiphany and its meaning in a very personal way. What is an epiphany? An epiphany is usually a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something divine, an intuitive grasp of a reality, usually simple and striking, an illuminating realization. I had just such an experience on my retreat this year, a deep knowing, a deep realization of God’s love for me. Are you able to recall having an epiphany you have had? God made manifest is not relegated to the Feast of the Epiphany alone! It can happen anytime, anywhere. We need to notice.
The Feast of the Epiphany also launches us into the coming Liturgical Year. In some churches, the upcoming dates of Ash Wednesday, the Easter Triduum, Easter Sunday, the Ascension, Pentecost and the First Sunday of Advent will be “proclaimed” after the gospel. I find the Proclamation very touching, a great reminder of how we are encircled each year in the Sacred Mysteries. If it is not proclaimed in your parish community, you can find the proclamation at: https://onlineministries.creighton.edu/ CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/Epiphany-Proclamation.html.
The Proclamation begins with: Dear brothers and sisters, the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of his return. “Shall ever be manifest among us!” Our entire liturgical year and every day holds the possibility of God being manifested in our lives.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
The Gospel of the Lord