Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Things All Christians Must Know About the Epiphany Story

Catholics all over the world celebrated the FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY last Sunday.

And what this celebration teaches me today is that although I have been an active member of Church organizations since after graduating from elementary school, is that there are a lot of things about the Catholic faith that I still don't know about.

For instance, EPIPHANY. I know about the Feast only as the "Three Kings Day" but... there's actually more to it than what we have learned from the carol songs.

Here are 5 things about the Feast of the Epiphany that all Christians must know about:

  1. Epiphany came from the Greek word "Epiphainein" and Latin word "Epiphania" which literally means "reveal", referring to the manifestation of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) coming from the East.
  2. In the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 2: 1-12), the Gentiles were represented by the Magi (Wise Men from the East). There were no mention in the Gospel about the exact number of Magi who visited Jesus and from where they came from or if the Magi were kings but old tradition have placed the number of visitors to three and named them Melchior, Caspar and Bhaltazar representing the nations of Africa, Europe and Arabia. Also, for purposes unknown, the word Magi was translated to Kings at that time- hence the origin of the old-time favorite Christmas tune "We Three Kings" and the "Three Kings Day" celebration in most Spanish-speaking nations.
  3. The Feast of the Epiphany is also called as the 12th day (or 12th Night) of Christmas as it is in fact traditionally celebrated 12 days after Christmas which falls on the 6th of January. Today, the Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday after January 6. Interestingly, the Gospel of Matthew that talks about the Epiphany story also runs in 12 verses (Mt 2: 1-12). 
  4. The story of the Epiphany in the Gospel of Matthew is full symbolism, for example the gifts that the Magi offered to Christ Jesus - Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense. These represent Jesus' three personas here on Earth as Priest (Frankincense), Prophet (Myrrh) and King (Gold).
  5. The Feast of the Epiphany also signals the end of the Christmas season. But did you know that here in the Philippines (as approved by the Vatican), the Christmas season officially ends after the Feast of the Sto. Nino which is scheduled on the third Sunday of January right after the Feast of the Traslacion.     

The greater message of the Feast of the Epiphany can be summed up in two things.

That Christ's message of salvation is open to everyone and that we must follow the examples of the Magi (the wise) - to seek for him with perseverance (through the guiding light of the Church) and upon meeting Jesus, we must all change our ways and cherish our new life with him to the end of our lives.

"And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." - Matthew 2: 12   

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