Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man
Father Tom wishes you all a …… Happy Epiphany!
All that preparation for Christmas and only ten days later it seems so far away. Gone are the Christmas adverts for food, drink and presents and we’re all rushing to buy that last leather sofa on offer (hurry, sale must end next Monday!) or drooling at the adverts for our luxury cruise around the world, or maybe just a simple, ‘let’s get away holiday’.
The Church recognises Christmas as a season, not just a bank holiday. Indeed, we have two echoes of the Christmas event that keep it alive in our hearts and minds: Epiphany and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple which is also known as Candlemass.
The word ‘epiphany’ is a most uncommon one. What it actually means is ‘manifestation’ or ‘showing’. It recalls the day when the glory of God was made visible and accessible through the birth of the child Jesus. The wise men, coming from virtually the edges of the then-known world, represent the fact that the glory of God has been revealed to every corner of the globe: from ‘the Great River to earth’s bounds’ as the psalmist tells us.
Epiphany is about universalism. No one has a monopoly on God and Christ did not come for some sort of elite group but for every single human being of all time. The three wise men came to do homage to Jesus because they felt he was special to them and to their people. Even people who have no evident outward religious expression often indicate that the simple message of Christmas is one that still appeals to the human heart. In fact, Pope St Leo the Great was fond of saying that ‘there can be no strangers at Christmas because God has graced us all, saints and sinners, with the gift of his own Son’.
But like every liturgy, Epiphany does not leave us simply looking at the past. It coaxes us to change and renewal in our daily life of faith and to make a difference to the future. If we celebrate Epiphany as the making visible of God’s gift of true humanity in the person of his Son, then we are also agreeing to be “epiphanies” ourselves, to be thankful people who never cease praising God for his many gifts and who show God’s graceful presence in our world by the way we ourselves live. Christmas may have come and gone, but Epiphany reminds us that it’s not over yet. We’ve a lot of showing to do.
With my prayers and very best wishes,