My memories of Epiphany as a child are of a big party, the last one of the Christmas season and back to school on the 07thJanuary, next day. The story of the three wise men, the carols, the colourful clothes of the three kings and their loads on the back of the animals were all a part of that day but I am afraid the spirituality of the feast and its depth never reached us.

Of course in reality Epiphany is one of the greatest feasts of the Church year.

In fact in many places and especially in the Eastern Church this glorious feast of Epiphany holds an even higher place than the Birth of Christ.  It is announced and celebrated with very great Solemnity.

The readings at Mass and Office for the day throw a lot of light on its depth and meaning. Isaiah begins by telling us “your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you”. Saint Paultells us of the manifestation of Christ to the peoples and the nations and of course St Matthew too gives all the details we want to know .We can learn so much from this text.

A sentence from today’s Preface sums up perfectly the feast “For today you have revealed the mystery of our salvation in Christ as a light for the nations, and when He appeared in our mortal nature, you made us new by the glory of his immortal nature.”

As St Leo said on Christmas Day “Let us then be quit of the old self and the habits that went with it. Sharers now in the birth of Christ, let us break with the deeds of the flesh. O Christian, be aware of your nobility- it is God’s own nature that you share”.

Epiphany means “to shine upon” or made “known”. When the three wise men saw the star they recognised it as the star of the infant Jesus and because they were wise they followed the star, they were searching for someone, they were rewarded for their unwearied search, the long tiresome journey, they never deviated but stood by their resolve to find him.

And going into the house they found the child with his mother Mary. I wonder were they taken aback at the very ordinary scene they encountered. After all they were looking for an “infant king”, no palace, no servants, no security gates or door. Yet the wise men had enough insight to recognise that they were in the presence of something very special. They immediately fell down and worshipped the Divine Infant.

Christ made himself known first to these Gentiles and they were the first to do homage. These men represent all the peoples outside Israelto whom the Gospel will be preached, a great missionary feast.

 

Today as Pope Francis says “God is not afraid of new things that is why He is continually surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways”.

The wise men offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They knew by a revelation who they were worshipping.

 We may no have such gifts, but as Christina Rossetti says in her poem:

“What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part
Yet what can I give Him,
Give my heart.”

                                                                      -Christina Rossetti

 
The wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, a duplicitous and seductive voice of the evil one and returned to their own country by a different way.

Jesus is The Way for us. Are we willing to go a different way this coming year, a year specially for consecrated people, can we learn from today’s feast to let the star of faith lead and guide us, on maybe a different path, a new way and be willing to radiate the light which is Christ to all who pass our path and depend more on God’s grace and strength.

Arise, shine out, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is resting on you.