The Epiphany of the Lord
On entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
Many of you have probably heard the song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” It’s a true classic. But not everybody is familiar with the real 12 days of Christmas. In the Church, the Christmas season actually begins the day after Christmas and ends 12 days later. Today, on the twelfth day of Christmas, we conclude this wonderful time of year by celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany.
In celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord, we celebrate the revelation that Jesus was born as the Son of God. Today’s gospel illustrates this revelation through the story of the three wise men who travelled to visit Jesus following his birth.
They embarked on a journey of faith, following the star of Bethlehem until they reached the manger where Jesus laid. They brought gifts that symbolized their revelation of his divinity: gold, which associated Jesus as a king. Frankincense, which was often used in worship, and symbolized the holiness of Jesus. And myrrh, a perfume used for embalming, which symbolized that Christ would one day die for our sins.
These Magi were “wise men” who studied the stars and were aware of the Jewish belief that a Messiah was coming. They would have been versed in much of the wisdom of the day and would have been intrigued by the Jewish belief in the Messiah.
God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore the Christ. He used a star. They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem, they realized that something special was happening. So the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. Look for the “star” that God is using to call you. It’s closer than you may think.
A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. They set a perfect example for us. If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same. Perhaps you could try literally lying down prostrate in prayer this day, in imitation of the Magi, or at least do so in your heart through prayer. Adore Him with a complete surrender of your life.
Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin. Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die. Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is. If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way.
As we start a new calendar year, it’s a time of rejuvenation for many of us. A chance for a new beginning. A chance to discover new things and make our own revelations. As the wise men in today’s gospel did, you too can continue to follow your faith throughout this year. The wise men had a revelation that the Son of God was coming, and they were not afraid to follow their hearts. Do not be afraid to follow your heart when you hear God’s call. “Epiphany” means manifestation. And the “Epiphany of the Lord” is Jesus’ manifestation not only to these three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world. These Magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him.
A Prayer A Day From Advent To Epiphany - David Adam
Waiting on the Word: A poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany - Malcolm Guite
Catholic Daily Reflections
The Quiet at the End of the World – Lauren James
Epiphany - Christopher Ram
Haphazard by Starlight: A Poem a Day from Advent to Epiphany – Janet Morley