The Epiphany (Manifestation of the Lord) marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas (January 6). The Epiphany is an ancient celebration of the Church that predates the first official celebration of Christmas. Originally The Epiphany focused on the nativity, incarnation, and baptism of Christ. Thus, to this day the principal day of celebration for the Eastern Orthodox Church is January 6, not December 25.
However, today the focus of Epiphany, for the Western Church, is on the Magi (Three Kings), the gifts they gave to the Holy Family, and the light that lead them. Therefore, the principal symbol of The Epiphany is the star proclaiming the light that dispels the darkness. It is the manifestation (Epiphany) of the light of Christ to the Gentiles (represented in the Magi) that John talks about in his Gospel: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)
Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan in their book, The First Christmas, write:
“Archbishop Oscar Romero, a twentieth-century Christian martyr killed by the powers that ruled El Salvador, once said that we are called to be Easter Christians in a Good Friday world, in a world still ruled by Herod and Caesar. So also we are called to be Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness. But Good Friday and the descent of darkness do not have the final word – unless we let them.” (p. 243)
It is our choice to embrace the gift of light in the midst of darkness this Epiphany. As we remember God’s gift of light, through the incarnation of God in Christ Jesus, we embrace the fact that we are “Christmas Christians in a world that still descends into darkness”. We stand firm on the promise that the darkness will not overcome the light of Christ. Consequently, we too like the Magi, bow in homage presenting ourselves in love, and with joy commit ourselves to the work of God’s kingdom on earth.
Resolve to live joyfully in 2016 as we celebrate The Epiphany. My prayer is that you and I will embrace the light of Christ in the midst of the darkness and chaos that whirls around us!