Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blog # 219 Epiphania Domini

Blog #219 Epiphania Domini When the Mass was celebrated in Latin and before the revision of the liturgical calendar in the mid sixties, the title of the Feast we celebrate this week-end was In Epiphania Domini. It was always celebrated with great solemnity on the twelfth day of Christmas. It is interesting and enlightening to recall that the several Sundays after Christmas before the beginning of Lent were labeled Sundays after the Epiphany rather than Sundays after Christmas as you might expect it to be done today. This was so because the Feast of Epiphany was ranked as a greater Feast than Christmas. We are all familiar with the coming of the Wise Men or Magi looking for the one born as King of the Jews. The star over the crib, their camels, and the gifts of gold frankincense and myrrh, are all very familiar to us and taken for granted as part of the normal Christmas scene. It seems, however, the real complete meaning and value of the Feast is less well known by many today. Let's try to capture or recapture some of the beauty and power that were the background and reason for it being of such importance in the calendar years ago. The word Epiphany comes from two Greek roots, and would mean a 'showing forth'. appearance, or manifestation. Epiphany is the Feast of the manifestation or identification of Jesus in relation to the three Wise Men of the Gospel story, but also to ourselves today. As is usually the case, we learn by asking questions. What is so special about this occasion in the life of Jesus? What are the lessons or points of interest in it for us? What is the significance of the many details given in the story? First, the Wise Men are given as three astrologers, well educated in the science of their day. To draw a conclusion from this for us today, we need not fear the advance of scientific truth in reference to the identity and importance of Jesus, ever. The Wise Men were evidently wealthy in that they were able to finance their long trip to seek the object of their star, and offer the precious gifts they did. Blessed with this world's goods, they had a further hunger. In our case, no matter what or how much of the physical psychological or spiritual world we possess and enjoy there is always the more, a star, calling us to leave where and who we are to explore and discover more, the further meaning of our experiences and in all of our desires, the Lord of them all. There was a great deal of effort expended on the part of the Wise Men, no doubt about that. They persevered to the end and found the object of their quest. We must do the same. The gifts detailed in Matthew's Gospel have always been of interest to all who read the story. Various interpretations have been given to the meaning of the gifts, gold to recognize the kingship of Jesus, frankincense to recognize His divinity, and myrrh to recognize His priesthood and death for the salvation of the world. Another important detail of the story for the early Church is the fact the Wise Men are given as non-Jews. This was particularly significant in the early history of the Church. The manifestation of Jesus as King God and Priest to others than those in the direct line of Abraham was experienced as a recognition of the meaning and importance of the command of Jesus to preach the Gospel to all people. May Jesus be clearly identified by each of us as God, King, and Priest, and through us to the world around us as the divine and powerful messenger and bearer of God's eternal love!

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