This week the Church celebrates the Feast of Epiphany. In Greek an epiphany designated a manifestation of a divinity, and later, important events in the life of a king. A feast on January 6th is first mentioned by Clement of Alexandria around the year 215 AD who said that the Baptism of Christ was celebrated on that day. There is evidence that the feast was celebrated in Syria, in Gaul and in Northern Italy as early as the year 383. In the Roman liturgy, the principal object of the feast is not the Baptism of Christ, but the adoration of the child Jesus by the three wise men from the East called the Magi. While scripture is silent about the number, the names and the gifts of the three strange kings, tradition has called them Balthasar, Caspar and Melchior, and their gifts as gold, frankincense and myrrh which were offered to the infant king, Jesus. Some cultures consider the feast as "Little Christmas: when gifts are exchanged in imitation of the gifts brought to the newborn Jesus when the Magi came to adore him.
Epiphany brings to a close the Christmas season, and gives us the opportunity to express our sincere thanks to all who helped to make the feast of Christmas a spiritually uplifting experience among all the problems of the times. We thank our ministers at the altar, our Eucharistic ministers, lectors and servers, a special thanks to the choir and the cantors, our music director, and the Hillman family for their Christmas vigil music, we thank our ushers who handled the tremendous response to the appeal on behalf of our elderly and retired priests, and most of all our thanks to all who worshipped with us and contributed so generously to our Christmas appeal.
As we begin a new year, we pray that God will bless you with good health and happiness and help all of us prepare ourselves well for the changes planned for the new year. As the scriptures last week reminded us may we, too, grow in age and wisdom and favor before God and all whom we meet.
Fr John R. Mulvehill