On January 6 the Church celebrates the feast of “Epiphany.”
This feast commemorates the mysterious visit of the magi to the Baby Jesus.
Who were the magi? What led them to visit Jesus? And what lessons should we–and shouldn’t we!–learn from this incident?
Here are nine things you should know . . .
1. What does the word “Epiphany” mean?
“Epiphany” means “manifestation.”
It comes from Greek roots that mean “to show, to display” (phainein) and “on, to” (epi-).
An epiphany is thus a time when something is shown, displayed, or manifested to an audience.
2. What is the feast of the Epiphany about?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. the great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.
In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.
The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.
Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.
The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”) [CCC 528].