We have now entered the season of Epiphany. The oldest name for the Feast of Epiphany was “Theophany,” which means “visible manifestation of God,” and it is a reference to God’s revealing of himself to the world. While Christmastide focused on the Nativity of our Lord and of His incarnation, whereby the 2nd Person of the Trinity took on flesh to become both God and man, the Feast of Epiphany, and therefore this season between Christmas and Lent of Epiphanytide, celebrates and focuses on Jesus Christ manifesting himself to humanity, not just as the promised Messiah of Israel, but also as the Messiah and Savior of the whole world.
The events that are celebrated throughout this season begin with the Magi’s visitation of the Christ child (an event which we remember on the Feast of Epiphany itself). These foreign dignitaries are an image of the revelation of the incarnate Son of God to the whole world, for it was these scholars and leaders of foreign nations, as opposed to the leaders of Israel, that sought out this king to bring him gifts.
There are also two additional major events in Jesus’ life that are traditionally associated with this season: the Baptism of Jesus (which we focus upon this coming Sunday) and the Wedding at Cana. It is in the Baptism of Jesus that Christ is manifested to the world as the Son of God, for it is during this event that a voice from heaven declares, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It is during the Wedding at Cana that Jesus first manifests to the world His miraculous power as He turns water into wine, which proves that He has power over creation, for He is the one whom St. John reminds us is the Word, who is God and was at the beginning, at creation, with God. This first public miracle also marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry; a ministry which would be focused on revealing to the world that God desires to reconcile all of His creation back to himself, that God is not seeking vengeance against humanity, but instead, that God desires to forgive and redeem humanity. Through all three of these events, the visitation of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus, and the Wedding at Cana, the 2nd Person of the Trinity--the incarnate Lord and Son of God--is revealed and made visible to the whole world.
May we all strive to see His light more clearly, and reflect it more purely this year,
(as published in St. Luke’s weekly newsletter, 1/8/19)