While much of our culture is well done with Christmas, we now enter into a season in which we pay special attention to Christ being made known – the ‘beyond’ of Christmas. The word Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ or ‘making known’.
We begin this season with three events of Jesus being made manifest. Last Sunday we heard of the arrival of the Magi at this birth (Mt 2). Matthew’s Gospel records these visitors as the first to pay homage to Jesus. This most ‘Jewish’ of Gospels makes a bold proclamation in naming these gentiles, non-Jews, to be the first to recognize that this child born is very, very special.
The second observance of the Epiphany jumps ahead to the fully grown Jesus being baptized by John in the river Jordan (Lk 3). John proclaims him as the One who will baptize with ‘fire and the Holy Spirit’ and the voice from heaven proclaims, “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased”. The feast of the Baptism of Christ is one of the baptismal days of the Church and is observed on the Sunday following Epiphany.
The next Sunday, January 20 this year, we hear a third manifestation of Christ as he appears at the wedding in Cana and performs his first miracle of turning water into wine (Jn 2).
On the Sundays following Epiphany, we will hear from chapter 4 of the Gospel of Luke and other readings about Jesus being made manifest.
As some of us struggle with a post-Christmas let down, I invite you to make this season a time when we watch for Jesus being ‘made known’ in the world around us. Make this season a time of discovery, “a time for intentionally opening our eyes to catch glimpses of God at work, a time for opening our hearts to the light of God’s truth.”*
It is the deepest desire of our God, of Jesus the Christ, to be known to us throughout the year, day by day. He wishes to be known, be made manifest, to each of us each and every day.
+The Sunday lections provide us with a lovely opportunity for personal Bible Study by reading Matthew 2, John 2 and Luke 3 & 4 on weekdays between Sundays. See http://www.lectionarypage.net for a complete listing of Sunday readings.
*Borrowed from Daily Feast; Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year C, Westminster John Knox Press.