‘Epiphany’ is understood as ‘appearance’ or ‘manifestation’. Jesus is revealed to the shepherds, the gentiles represented by the Magi, later in the synagogue Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah and also in Cana, Jesus reveals Himself through the first miracle - all these revelations could collectively be called the Epiphany.
As different people reacted to the Epiphany differently, we are asked to be part of a reacting side: the side of Herod filled with hatred, jealousy and anger towards the baby Jesus; the side of priests and scribes with all knowledge and no action, all intellect and no wisdom, indifference. They ignored the Messiah. The side of shepherds and Magi went to adore him! May our longing for our messiah be filled with the blessings of those fortunate shepherds and Magi!
As the Spirit of Christmas continues to fill our minds and hearts, we celebrate this beautiful feast of Epiphany. The Catechism teaches us that “The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world” (CCC528). The Catechism also teaches that Epiphany also celebrates two other major events in which Jesus’s messianic identity is revealed: Jesus’ baptism and Jesus at the wedding in Cana.
We encounter the advent of a star in the book of Numbers (24:17-19). The most interesting part is in verse 18 ‘Edom shall be dispossessed’. Of course we are talking about the King rising in Israel. Herod must have known this prophesy as he was not from the line of King David, but actually an ‘Idumaen’ – This is how Herod is connected to Edom; He was an Edomite. The Star is in a way a warning sign for Herod, but a Gospel of Joy to the entire world. Epiphany wishes to all of you!
With the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we conclude the Season of Christmas. On Tuesday we begin the Ordinary Time. Jesus’ baptism by John was the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering servant (1st Reading). Jesus identifies himself with the sinful humanity and begins his mission to bring salvation to our fallen nature.
‘To baptize’ means to immerse or to plunge. Pope Benedict taught, “Jesus loaded the burden of all humanity’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the cross.” As Jesus immerses or plunges into the water the ‘evil one’ feels a sigh of relief. Little that he knows that redemption is at hand; baptism leads us to life eternal.
Is baptism just a ritual? What are the graces and blessings we received at the time of our baptism? What does my own baptism encourage me to realize in my Christian Identity and life? “Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments.” (CCC 1213).
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