The Epiphany of the Lord, traditionally celebrated on January 6, will be celebrated on Sunday, January 8 this year. It is the feast of the manifestation of the Savior to the world, represented by the Magi, the three Gentile wise men from the East. For many Christians, particularly the Eastern Churches, it is celebrated as the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and is as important a feast as Christmas.
Epiphany is derived from the Greek word for manifest or reveal and refers to the tradition that Jesus’ birth revealed him as the Messiah to the Jewish world, but that the revelation of Jesus as Savior was made manifest to the world at large at a later date, for the Western Church that occurred with the coming of the Magi representing the wider world. For the Eastern Church that manifestation is celebrated at the time of his Baptism by John the Baptist.
What is the message for us? The manifestation to the world of Jesus as Savior did not occur only 2000 years ago, but continues. Those manifesting that truth today, as through the ages, are no longer Magi or John the Baptist, but Christians through the lives that they lead. The witness of the life each one of us leads either manifests Jesus as Savior or obscures that divine reality.
Tertullian in his Apology (39.7) written in the second century spoke of the importance of the witness of our daily lives. Quoting the pagans speaking of the Christians who were undergoing persecution, he wrote “’Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another’ (for they themselves hate one another); ‘and how they are ready to die for each other’ (for they themselves are readier to kill each other)’.”
Our Epiphany reflection might be: `Does the witness of our lives manifest Jesus as Lord by our love and willingness to die for one another?
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