Wednesday, 3 January 2018


              Coming! Coming! Coming!......Come!.....Gone!                              This describes the huge, even extravagant, build-up to Christmas, it’s brief but  joyful celebration, and then it’s all over. This closure is eloquently stated by  the return to school at the end of the vacation. 

To some it may seem that  the Church wraps up Christmas neatly by celebrating  the Solemnity of the Epiphany – the journeying l of the Magi from the East to see for themselves one particular, very special, newly born baby boy.    

It’s truly surprising that the one person  to ask what’s going on is the vicious King Herod. He puts it to the Magi, “Go and find out all about the child, and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage,” (Mtt.2.8). As we all know his resolve was to wipe out the opposition, ’this infant king of the Jews.’ 

Very different was the attitude of the shepherds   who left their sheep on the hillside while they went to see this infant for themselves. “They went back glorifying and praising God for all they heard and seen,” (Lk.2.20).

Our Christmas celebration has surely been centred on this child beautiful in His infancy who is, in truth, actually the Son of God, now one of us - a member of the human family.  From earliest times  the celebration of the Solemnity of the Epiphany has been hugely important. It enables us to see that child was, as a man, to be active as only God can be.

The word ‘Epiphany’ means a revelation in which God exposes, unmasks His hidden self. Jesus is God seen in action as a man among men. Epiphany occurs when the human mind, the human heart   identifies the presence of God – as did Peter when he exclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus concurs with this and explains to Peter what has happened. “You are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven, (Mtt.16.17). 

The shepherds and the Magi would have left the stable at Bethlehem deeply impressed, probably bewildered and uncertain of what would be the future of this child to whom they had be led in such an extraordinary way.  Once  Christmastide  is over we are not left in such bewilderment and uncertainty.

Our ongoing faith that Mary’s child was truly God has been refreshed and renewed as we have devoutly celebrated Christmas. Our faith takes us beyond the stable in Bethlehem to a time when the divinity of Jesus was openly exposed. In an ongoing  epiphany  we are made to know the consequences of the Son of God becoming man.

The visit of the gentile Magi immediately expanded the God’s embrace of mankind – no longer exclusively to the Chosen People of Israel.  Through Jesus  the global family of mankind would be the Chosen People of God. 

 Further,   in  the celebration of the Epiphany  the Church  draws our attention to that time when Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and a voice from Heaven proclaimed, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” 

 And finally, on this day   the Church draws our attention   to the happiness of the wedding Jesus attended in Cana. There He not only changed water into wine. In a brilliant Epiphany it is revealed to us that in Jesus, truly God, truly man, the Almighty is lovingly, inseparably wedded to mankind.

I conclude with the Antiphon in Evening Prayer of the Church for the Solemnity of the Epiphany

Three wonders mark this day we celebrate: today the star led the Magi to the manger; today water was changed into wine at the marriage feast; today Christ desired to be baptized by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation, alleluia.

   Peter Clarke, O.P.

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