Today is the Feast of the Epiphany. We recall the story in St Matthew’s Gospel about the Wise Men from the East who showed up to see and adore the baby Jesus, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This was a very special event, but it was not the only epiphany.
According to the dictionary, an epiphany is an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity. The Greeks spoke of the epiphanies of their pagan gods. In the Eastern Church the Feasts of the Baptism of the Lord and of the Miracle at Cana (Jesus’ first miracle) are also celebrated as “epiphanies”.
In addition to these epiphanies in the life of Jesus long ago, can we experience an “epiphany” today? I see no reason why Jesus cannot manifest Himself as Son of God today just as much as He did in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago. However, I believe that Jesus’ epiphanies today are more subtle, and easy to miss. We need to pay attention and be open to these epiphanies.
There are times in prayer, or a liturgical celebration, or prayerful reading of Scripture, when Jesus reveals Himself. We may have a deeper insight into Him, or an intense feeling of His love, or a better appreciation of the gift of salvation He offers, and that experience is a type of epiphany. The wonders of nature, a family relationship, an experience of grace that leads us to go beyond ourselves in generosity or forgiveness, an abiding sense of peace, and in many other ways, we may get a glimpse of the reality of Jesus Christ, and so experience an epiphany.
We should not think of epiphany solely as three funny dressed guys with camels and most unusual gifts, but also an event that can happen to us, that we can experience in our lives here and now. Whenever and however Jesus reveals Himself, that is an epiphany.
So as we celebrate this feast please do not think of it as simply something that was long ago and far away. This is also a feast about us, and God in Jesus revealing Himself to us here and now. I believe that is the deeper meaning of the Feast of the Epiphany.
Happy Feast Day!