We celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany this weekend. We commemorate the arrival of the Magi, who came from the East to worship the newborn King of the Jews and universal Savior, and to offer him symbolic gifts. With their act of adoration, the Magi testify that Jesus came to earth to save not just one people, but all peoples. Therefore, in today’s feast our gaze widens to the horizon of the whole world to celebrate the “manifestation” of the Lord to all people, that is, the manifestation of God’s love and universal salvation. The word epiphany etymologically comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “manifestation” It has come to refer to the feast celebrating the visit of the “wise men from the East” to the Christ Child, recounted in Matthew’s Gospel.
And yet, what a mystery that the epiphany of God — his manifestation — is hidden behind the tiny fingers and toes of an infant, who was born in a stable on Christmas Day. From the beginnings of Christianity, saints and scholars have considered the richness of this mystery. Saint Peter Chrysologus wrote in the 5th Century: “Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body. As they look, they believe and do not question, as their symbolic gifts bear witness: incense for God, gold for a king, myrrh for one who is to die.”
On the Epiphany there is an ancient custom of announcing the dates of the moveable feasts of the coming year. The proclamation of the date of Easter and the other moveable feasts on Epiphany dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date. Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year. It is often sung in proclamation at the Masses on Epiphany Sunday.
For the year 2019 it reads: “Know, dear brothers and sisters, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God’s mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior. On the Sixth day of March will fall Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season. On the Twenty-first day of April you will celebrate with Joy Easter Day, te feast of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the Thirtieth day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the Ninth day of June, the feast of Pentecost. On the Twenty-third day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. On the First Day of December, the First Sunday of Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
This year Lent begins in March and Easter is in late April! So be sure to mark your calendars accordingly. Last weekend we distributed our beautiful parish calendar. I hope its placed in a prominent place in your home or office. We are most grateful to Betsy Caparco Harris and Deborah Caparco Runshe of the Hill Funeral Home for once again donating the calendars to OLM. If you did not get one yet please look in the Church vestibule for them. Feel free to take one for a friend, family member or neighbor who is shut-in and cannot get to Mass.
Pope Francis speaks of this Feast of the Epiphany as the journey of a soul toward an encounter with Christ. The Magi, the Pontiff tells us, “ are attentive to the signs that point to his presence; untiring in facing the difficulties of the search; courageous in dealing with the consequences that come from their encounter with the Lord. This is what Christian life is, a journey, but also being attentive, untiring and courageous.”
On this Epiphany may we continue to follow the Magi. May we too always be attentive to Christ in our lives, untiring in spreading the Good News of Christ and courageous in bearing witness to Christ. A Blessed Epiphany! Be well. Do good. God Bless. Go Pats!