On this weeks programme John and Shane reflect on the feast of Epiphany and the different traditions and customs around the celebration of the last major feast of the Christmas season.
St Matthew tells us (2:1-12) that Wise Men came from out of the east seeking the new born child as the Messiah of the whole world not just for the people of Israel. Their homage to him upon locating him in Bethlehem is representative of the whole world who adore the Holy Child and recognise his Divine Kingship, he who is the Light of the World.
"They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
The feast of the Epiphany in the latin rite tradition focuses on the manifestation or showing of the Child Jesus to the Magi or Wise men who have come to seek the new King of the Jews. The three wisdom seekers represent the gentiles; those outside the covenanted community of Israel to whom the Messiah will also come. Where the shepherds represented the Chosen People, the three magi represent all those who truly search and seek for God in our world even if from out side our community and experiences. The questions this familiar part of the Christmas narrative can pose to us include:
But like the shepherds, the three magi did not stay in Bethlehem, they had to go back out into the world, back to their homes and families and daily lives; just like we have to. But they took the message of what they had seen and heard with them. Epiphany demands that like these kings we should return to our own countries a different way, carrying to all those we meet the light of Christ. "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth," says the Epistle of the Epiphany Mass, "and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon Thee, and His glory shall be seen upon Thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in Thy light..." These words may be applied to us, upon whom the light of Christ has indeed risen, and who have the responsibility to radiate that light in the darkness of our own world. It is clear how much the feast of Epiphany must mean to all who are engaged in the apostolate and are striving to extend the kingdom of Christ.