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Today the child born on Christmas is revealed to be the long-awaited king of the Jews. As the priests and scribes interpret the prophecies in today’s Gospel, He is the ruler expected from the line of King David, whose greatness is to reach to the ends of the earth Jesus is found with His mother,  and the magi come to pay Him tribute, as once kings and queens came to Solomon.

 And so, we seek to understand one of the most difficult of all movements or transitions in the Christian experience of faith. This is the movement from Incarnation to Epiphany.

We have all been caught in the spirit of Christmas. Despite our  awareness that Easter should be our “biggest” holy day. Christmas seems to win out. Our ties to babies and young mothers along with a substantial boost from the retail business makes Christmas the “main event” in our yearly liturgical cycle. So, to enhance the Epiphany, we have run Christmas and Epiphany together into one event that we don’t really separate in our thinking. Mary, Joseph, the angels, the shepherds, the star, and the wise men all end up in the same nativity scene. So, what is Epiphany? How is our understanding of God and our relationship with God illuminated and deepened by a proper understanding of Epiphany?

Most of us, no matter how old we are, remember adolescence with the feelings and frustrations of that time of life

The idea of Incarnation, God becoming one of us, is both terrifying and wonderful. It captures our imaginations at all levels and invites us into a deeper involvement. It is not a rational concept  But where or what is Epiphany?

 Epiphany is not a fantasy, but an encounter, or experience with the reality of God. We come face-to-face with a “burning bush,” or a “still, small voice,” or a “baby in a manager,” or the “resurrected Lord”! These encounters are very real experiences, which will impact our life, and being in such a powerful way that our whole identity is changed.   We bring all our wisdom and our allegiance to the truth into that relationship.  

Those wise men encountered not a fantasy or an idea, but the truth about life and death and God. They experienced the fulfillment of a hope and a promise that dated from the most ancient memories of the human race. They encountered the mystery of the Creator within the Creation itself. And they knew what they had found.

One of the things St Matthew tells us about are  the leaders in Jerusalem to warn us against allowing dogma to close the door  on growth in faith. He portrays the wandering Magi as guides to Emmanuel, God with us. St Matthew encourages us to cultivate the humility and openness necessary to discover something bigger, deeper, more mysterious than our best teachings or wildest imaginings.

Ironic, isn't it? Pagans following a star were open to the manifestation of the God of Israel while religious leaders disregarded all the signs they had at hand. 

Today the church as a whole community, as well as individual members of that community, need Epiphany. We long to encounter that same truth which captured the souls of the wise men from the East, John the Baptist, St. Paul, St. Peter, the Apostles, St Francis and countless saints known and unknown. It is the Lord who calls us through these Epiphanies to commit all that we are and have to that relationship which we can best define as “pure unbounded Love.” We will be fed and sustained not by what we bring to the relationship, but by what the One we encounter in the Epiphany brings.



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