An Epiphany about the Epiphany

On this feast of the Epiphany, it’s worthwhile to look at the various definitions of that word. The first that comes up online is “a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi.” Then there’s this, more secular meaning: “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.”

It seems like there are a number of epiphanies in today’s readings. The magi experienced a few, the first being the star that led them to the newborn King of the Jews. The second was the tremendous power this baby King represented as reflected in the desperate actions King Herod took to find him as well—but not for the reasons he expressed to the Magi. The angel who appeared to them, warning them away from Herod, revealed his true motives. That was an epiphany to the Magi and to all the succeeding generations of Jesus’ heirs—to be wary of the corrupting effects of power.

Paul tells of his epiphany in the second reading—that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise of Christ through the Gospel. Isaiah had this epiphany many generations before Paul, as he tells us in today’s first reading when he says that nations shall walk by the light that came out of Jerusalem.

That light still shines through in these writings as part of our inheritance. Their relevance is just as strong as when they were written. We still have our political Herods who say one thing and mean another. In fact through today’s global media we seem to experience an epiphany every day about our earthly leaders—and not many of these are good.

So on this feast of THE Epiphany, let’s cherish the revelation that came with the rising of a star 2,000 years ago and lead our families by its light.

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