The Epiphany of Our Lord
The word Epiphany means manifestation, and it has passed into general acceptance throughout the universal Church, from the fact that Jesus Christ manifested to the eyes of men His divine mission on this day first of all, when a miraculous star revealed His birth to the kings of the East. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy that a star would arise from Jacob. (Numbers 24:17) It was understood by these Wise Men that this star was announcing the Saviour-King, destined to be born of the Jews. And they, in spite of the difficulties and dangers of a long and tedious journey through deserts and mountains almost impassable, hastened at once to Bethlehem to adore Him. And there they offered Him mystical presents, as to the King of kings, to the God of heaven and earth, and to a Man whose human nature made Him mortal and subject to sufferings.
The second manifestation commemorated by this feast day occurred when He came forth from the waters of the Jordan after having received Baptism from the hands of Saint John, and the Holy Ghost descended on Him in the visible form of a dove. A voice from heaven was heard, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The third manifestation which the Church’s liturgy recalls to us is that of the divine power of Jesus when, at the marriage-feast of Cana, by the first of His miracles He changed water into wine. And at the sight of this prodigy His disciples believed in His Divinity. These three great events, concurring to the same end, the Church has wished to celebrate in one and the same festival.
Reflection. Admire the almighty power of this little Child, who from His cradle makes known His coming to the shepherds and magi — to the shepherds by means of His Angel, to the magi by a star in the East. Admire the docility of these kings. Jesus is born: behold them at His feet! Let us be little, let us efface ourselves, and the divine strength will be granted to us. Let us be docile and quick in following divine inspirations, and we shall then become wise by the wisdom of God, powerful by His almighty power.
Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894)