The Epiphany

Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of the Incarnation – God’s dwelling among us – to the world beyond Judea.

The Nativity narratives answer the question “how did this all begin?” The “this” is Jesus’s divinity and His death and resurrection – the central mysteries of our salvation – through which we share in the life and love of God.

The Gospel of John gets to point outright: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God and the Word became one of us.”

Other Gospels introduce us to the mystery of the Incarnation in human terms and with signs of Divine intervention. There is the mundane: complying with law of the land, traveling, having to find a place to stay, and a newborn baby using diapers. But the accounts also include the extraordinary – angels making great announcements – to direct us to this very special person.

And, in today’s story, an especially bright star leads some wise men to Bethlehem. These “Magi” were non-Jews who were searching for the meaning of life in the heavens. To them a great revelation was made, one that was missed by the leaders like King Herod and the Scribes: salvation – the sharing in the life of God – is for everyone.

For Christians in the early Church, especially in the Greek world, this event was very important, so details were added in popular culture. Three gifts, hence three visitors. Isaiah had mentioned that kings would come to Jerusalem and others would arrive on “camels and dromedaries,” and so the “kings” arrive on camels in the Nativity scenes.

But Paul was straightforward in his letter to Ephesians: “the pagans are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus...”

And because of this, everyone merits respect, acceptance, kindness, and attention – the same love Jesus has for us.