Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany means manifestation. What the Church celebrates today is the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world; after being made known to the shepherds of Bethlehem, He is revealed to the Magi who have come from the East to adore Him. All Christian tradition has seen in the Magi the first fruits of the Gentiles; they lead in their wake all the peoples of the earth, and thus the Epiphany is an affirmation of universal salvation.

If the Feast of Epiphany is to be fully understood as the Church sees it, it will have to be viewed from two aspects: that of God who manifested Himself to man, and that of man, typified in the Magi, who responded with wholehearted faith and love. It is, therefore, a day of faith and grace on which no other prayer ought to take precedence over that petition of the Our Father, “Thy Kingdom Come!”**

Several traditions take place on this day:

  • It is a tradition in many cultures to exchange gifts honoring the birth of Christ on the Epiphany instead of on Christmas day, just as the Magi brought their gifts on this day, and the Gift of Christ is revealed to us. Consider adopting this practice in your family as a way of marking this solemnity.
  • On this Feast of the Epiphany, plan a special meal for your family that reflects and celebrates your cultural origins. Light candles to represent Christ as the “Light of Nations.”  Many cultures share the tradition of the “King” cake on Epiphany, in which a small infant doll or bean representing the Christ child is hidden in a cake or other dessert served with the evening meal. The family member who finds the “King” in their serving is awarded a small gift or privilege.
  • It is often tradition to bless your home and household. The USCCB has a great blessing for this tradition. (external site)
May the splendor of your majesty, O Lord, we pray, shed its light upon our hearts, that we may pass through the shadows of this world and reach the brightness of our eternal home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (The Collect for Mass)
** With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.
Photo Credit: St Mary, Erpingham, Norfolk – Window (John Salmon) / CC BY-SA 2.0