Epiphany, also called Feast of the Epiphany, Theophany, or Three Kings’ Day, (from Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation”), occurs on January 6, 12 days after Christmas. The Catholic Church moves the celebration of the feast to the closest Sunday as to give more weight to the feast. Epiphany commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi. Epiphany is one of the three principal and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two are Easter and Christmas). Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Western churches observe the feast on January 6, while some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6.
The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the mystery of God revealing God’s self (i.e., the Incarnation) to the very ends of the earth. The visit of the Magi symbolize the extent of God’s love: for all people, from every land; for every race and creed.
Time is up! Our time for preparation is drawing near. Are we ready to receive the Incarnate Word? This year, we won’t be so busy with hurrying here and there, going from one store to the next, or one holiday party to the next. So use this gift of time to rediscover Advent, and to remember that God’s promise to us has been fulfilled. Ponder the actions of our loving God, who has always been faithful to the covenant.
Bring glad tidings to the poor! How can you help to do that? How can you help heal the brokenhearted? Is there something you can do to bring about justice? Pay attention to who is around you; what might they need? Can you help?
“That man say we can’t have as much rights as a man ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with it” (Sojourner Truth, 19th century).
Prepare your heart to welcome the Lord. Perhaps reflect on the times you have turned away from God, and ask for pardon. Is there someone with whom you want to be reconciled? Maybe this is the week you send Christmas cards. This year, hand-write a short note, especially to those who might be alone.
Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.