Sunday, January 3, 2016

Epiphany (on the 10th Day of Christmas)

Merry Christmas!


     Yes, it is still Christmas: today is the 10th of the 12 Days of Christmas (which are, themselves, not the entire Christmas season: see HERE).  It is also, in much of the world, the day of the liturgical celebration of the great Feast of Epiphany, the traditional date of which is January 6th.  In the Western Church today this feast commemorates the visit of the Magi, whom scripture neither crowns nor numbers, but describes simply as “wise men from the East”. The word Epiphany means “a manifestation” or “a revealing”, in this context the name of the Feast refers to the fact the gifts and adoration of the Magi make manifest that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God.  This ancient feast (older than Christmas) has at times also been connected  to the Nativity, the Baptism of Jesus and other manifestations of his Divinity.
     It is interesting how many epiphanies of “God With Us” that we are given : the examples above barely scratch the surface. And still it’s so hard for us to see (a theme of my post for the 10th day as well).  Even Mary and Joseph, after visits from Angels and what they knew full well was a Virgin Birth, “marveled at what was said about him (Luke 2:33)”  when they hear the old man Simeon prophesy over Jesus when he is presented in the Temple. A full dozen years later, they still seem to have a hard time taking it all in:

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.  (Luke 2:46-50)



It’s just so hard for us to see beyond our narrow horizons, even the human parents of The Lord – and who could hope to have faith equal to theirs?  But here, as always, the Blessed Mother is the model disciple: “his mother”, the Evangelist tells us, “kept all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).  She doesn’t let her initial human reactions have the last word, and one might even say that she demonstrates the classic definition of theology: faith seeking understanding.


(Click HERE to see today's post at Nisi Dominus, "10th Day of Christmas: A God Of Surprises")