The Feast of Epiphany

Felipe Fortitudo

The feast of Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on the 12th day after Christmas, January 6th. It commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men (or Kings) to the Baby Jesus. Epiphany is mainly celebrated by Catholics and Orthodox Christians.

“Epiphany” comes from Greek roots which means “to show, to display” (phainein) and “on, to” (epi-). An epiphany therefore is a time when something is shown, displayed, or manifested to an audience. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world.

The Book of Matthew told us the brief story of the Wise Men who were looking for the newly born King of the Jews. They stopped at Herod’s palace on their way to Bethlehem, and the king, being jealous of the new “king”, asked them to let him know where this newborn was, so that “I may also go and pay him homage.” But the magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and so they left for their own country by another road” and were never heard from again (Matthew 2:12).

According to tradition, the Three Wise Men were members of an order of Persian priestly-astrologers known as Magi, that would study and interpret the stars. They were also believed to be kings of their lands.

The star guided the Persian Kings, Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar, to Bethlehem where they discovered the child in the house the star stood over. The men offered the child their gifts: gold, incense and myrrh. This event is known as the Adoration of the Magi.

Gold symbolizes love, frankincense is used for prayers and myrrh represents the suffering of Christ. Like what the three wise men gave, the best gifts we can offer to the Baby Jesus are Love, Prayers and Sacrifice.

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