We celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord on this January 3rd of the new year. Epiphany is a word that comes from the ancient Greek that means a manifestation, a striking appearance. It is described as the experience of a striking realization. Even though most do not use the word today apart from the feast, we have heard people say that they have had an epiphany! It is the "eye opener", the light bulb going off in our heads, the "ah ha!" moment, the light overcoming the darkness of our confusion, the sudden impact of clarity, the "now I see it!" experience.
For the Church, the word is used to designate the Feast when the magi came from a far to search for the Christ Child. They were searching for truth, seeking answers to the meaning of life, following their quest for purpose. They came to the child and his mother and Joseph and simply presented their gifts. They in turn were immensely gifted in realizing that they had come upon someone of great importance and something that would be life changing. They were not sure what it was, but they knew that they had found it, and they were able to return to their countries with a peace and contentment in their hearts.
This Feast is an Epiphany for the followers of Jesus Christ in that our "ah ha!" moment of revelation and realization was that the birth of this child, the fulfillment of the promise made to a particular people, was expanded to include all who seek, to all who search for truth. That, my friends, is you and me. The gift is too great to be limited, too necessary to be confined. This was our moment of celebrating "God with us" - Emmanuel. In the earliest days of the Church, this was the primary celebration of Christmas, not December 25th, for the Good News was made known to us in this welcome of the magi in the home of the Holy Family. So, on this great feast ... Merry Christmas! Again!
The Feast of the Epiphany is special for me in that seven years ago on this Feast (actually on January 4th) I was installed as the fifth pastor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. These past seven years have been a blessing that I cherish in my heart.