Epiphany of the Lord—Solemnity
January 6, or on the first Sunday after January 1 in countries where this feast is not a Holy Day of Obligation
Liturgical Color: White/Gold
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:10-11
All of God’s creation gives Him glory and praises Him by its very existence. Psalm 143 states, “Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all shining stars. Praise him, highest heavens, you waters above the heavens. Let them all praise the LORD’s name; for he commanded and they were created…” Though creation gives praise to God simply by existing and thus, revealing its Creator, today’s solemnity commemorates the one moment in time when God used a star to manifest His eternal glory.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, it was commonly believed that a new star would appear whenever a new ruler was born. The Father in Heaven used this belief to honor His Son Who was born as the new King. The three Magi from the East were astrologers. When they saw this “new star,” they chose to follow it to discover the new King. Creation itself, in the form of a star, pointed the way, thus giving glory to the newborn King, manifesting Him to the whole world as symbolized by the Magi.
The word “Epiphany” means “manifestation.” Therefore, as we honor this moment in time when the Christ Child was made manifest to the world, we need to look into our own hearts. There, we discover Christ’s ongoing manifestation to us so that we can worship Him Who has also chosen to be born within our hearts. We must diligently seek out that manifestation of God within us and respond to it in the same ways that the Magi responded.
First of all, the Magi were determined. When they saw a sign from the heavens that pointed to a new King, they stopped everything and departed in haste to find Him. When God speaks to you and manifests Himself to you in some way, nothing could be more important than to be attentive to His voice and follow His manifestation with the same haste.
The Magi brought the Christ Child gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God was honored and glorified through His creation by the giving of these gifts. God created gold to manifest His beauty and dignity. It was a gift that symbolized kingship. When we ponder the natural gift of gold given to the Christ Child, we are inspired to give Him our own gift of symbolic gold by prayerfully acknowledging Him as our own King to whom we pledge our complete submission.
Made from the sap of trees found in India, northeastern Africa, and the Arabian peninsula, frankincense and myrrh are also fruits of God’s creation. Used in worship to symbolize prayers rising to heaven, frankincense symbolizes the Christ Child’s divinity. We offer frankincense to Christ when we acknowledge His divine nature, since He is God in the flesh. Often used in burial, myrrh honors the Christ Child Who came to give His life as a sacrifice for many. We offer myrrh to profess our belief in the saving power of Christ’s death on the Cross and our need for that gift of salvation.
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany, try to see it as a historical event in which you are invited to share. God wants to manifest Himself to you today. When this happens, you must respond with faith and worship, giving God the greatest glory by giving Him your very life and offering Him your spiritual gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Most glorious Christ Child, the Father in Heaven honored Your birth by placing a star over the place where you lay. Through that new star, Your divine presence was made manifest to the world in the Magi who responded with faith and worship. Please manifest Yourself to me within my own soul where You wish to be born, and give me the love and zeal I need to follow the example of the Magi, offering You my own gifts in adoration and trust. Jesus, I trust in You.