On January 6th in our Christian calendars, the season of Epiphany begins. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” It is meant to be a celebration that remembers the wonder and impact of three miracles that reveal the divinity of Jesus as King.
We remember and celebrate the visit of the three Magi during Christ’s birth, an act of Gentile recognition of Christ’s Kingship. We remember and celebrate Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River when the Father said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” We remember and celebrate his first miracle at the wedding in Cana, when Jesus revealed his glory and his disciples believed in him. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany and its meaning, and each one of these event point to joy.
We rejoice in the coming of Christ, but it’s not enough for Christ to have been born.
Epiphany begins with the Magi receiving an order from King Herod and disobeying that order because of a word from God. The Magi had to make a choice, to trust God in King Jesus or trust King Herod. They trusted God.
Among the many beautiful things we receive during Epiphany, we receive an invitation. We are invited to trust God in King Jesus, or we can go on trusting King Herod. The reality is, both kings are at work in the world creating all sorts of tension in our lives. Both kings make promises and offer what they believe to be the ‘good life.’ Sometimes their decrees are aligned, sometimes they are not. It’s when they are not that a choice must be made. In our hearts, one king must submit to another. We cannot split allegiances. Thanks be to God, Epiphany is tied to the Christmas promise: the way of God in King Jesus is our liberation and true way to hope, peace, joy, and love.
During the season of Epiphany, we receive the invitation and celebrate the promise as we remember our pledge of allegiance to King Jesus. When we hear the words of the Father pronounced over Jesus in his baptism, “This is my beloved son,” we remember this pronouncement is ours too. When we see the miracle-working power of Jesus throughout the Scriptures, we remember that God is all about new possibilities. Let’s allow the season of Epiphany to make known the wondrous love and reign of Jesus our King and the new possibilities he brings. God has come to us! Jesus is King and light to the nations.
One more thing to remember, since our faith that includes every tongue and nation.
In Hispanic and Latin culture, as well as some places in Europe, it is known as ‘Three Kings’ Day. In many of these countries, it is celebrated with special pastries, including a Kings Cake, and is a time of feasting and celebration. Children often receive small gifts in their shoes in honor of the Magi’s gifts to the infant Jesus.
Epiphany Sunday marks a straight line between Christ’s birth and his baptism, his incarnation and the declaration from the voice from heaven that he is the Son of God. Therefore, Epiphany is more than one Sunday; it becomes a season that guides the Church through the life and ministry of Jesus. It extends from January 6th until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter.
Celebrate, beloved. Remember. And receive the invitation.