The Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord: the Time of His Public Manifestation in the Flesh as the Son of God, the King of the Jews, and the Savior of the World.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Epiphany is a Greek word that means Manifestation, appearance as of the Light, Revelation. In Syriac, it is called Denho, or the Dawn and coming of the Light. Three main events in the history of Salvation at the time of Jesus mark the liturgical identity of this Feast:
First, the Visit of the Magi, where they came and worshiped the new upcoming King as the Gospel tells us in Matthew 2: 1- 12. Christ is the awaited King, not only of the Jews according to the prophecies of the prophets of Old, but more so, Christ is the Hope of all nations who came to submit to Him the case of their redemption making Him truly the objective of their adoration and pilgrimage.
Second, the Baptism of the Lord by John the Forerunner and the last Messianic prophet at the River Jordan according to the Gospel of Matthew 3: 3- 17. In this Gospel we see how clearly the Father sounded from Heaven: “This is My Beloved Son in Whom I am pleased”; We also see the Holy Spirit coming down upon Jesus after his Baptism in a bodily form looking like a dove.
The third and last historical liturgical occasion that is also known as the Epiphany is the Commemoration the First public Miracle of Jesus at the Wedding Feast of Cana of Galilee according to the Gospel of Saint John 2: 1- 11. In this appearance, Jesus definitely is out of the house. Jesus is no longer the Son of Mary and Joseph. Jesus is now the Christ publicly, the awaited Messiah and Savior of the World.
From these three liturgical occasions that mark the Epiphany, the appearance of Jesus in the Flesh as the King, the Son of God and the Messiah or Savior of the World, we can retrieve the following conclusions:
1- Restoration Time:
"Lord God, hope of all the earth, hear the humble prayer of your children as we sing your praises. Pour out your Spirit on us so that our lives may bear fruit abundantly.”
In this prayer from the Office of Christmas time according to the Latin breviary, the prayer seeks a direct restoration of the life for humans by restoring first the hope to the Earth in the Lord, and next by recalling the Holy Spirit to come back and animate or activate the process of life in us.
Life without the Holy Spirit is sterile life, is a life that dies every day. Life with the Holy Spirit is authority over all the earth, is procreation and prosperous in bearing fruits.
2- Preservation of Life:
John the Baptist was the “voice in the Wilderness” to call people back from sin and to prepare the way to the Lord. This means that the Baptism of John for the forgiveness of sins was to preserve life from destruction and death. The baptism of John reminded people that God will cast behind all sins as Isaiah the prophet says. The sins were all cast out by the Blood of the Lord who took our baptism of sin in his Sacrifice on the Cross and gave it back to us as total gift of purchase by His Pure Blood through which Christ once and for all gave us our live back and destroyed the evil one who is the true enemy. Hear what Isaiah says:
"You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction, When you cast behind your back all my sins". (Isaiah 38, 17)
3- Forgiveness of Sins:
The Baptism of Christ at the River Jordan is an important fact in the history of salvation that redemption is happening in the flesh. Christ becomes man, yet he appears in the flesh as the same and Only Son of the Father. Christ, by his incarnation, allows all men to come to Him in the Flesh and in the Flesh to seek salvation through the unity of the fullness of the created man as the in the image and Likeness of God. Without the incarnation Salvation could still be debatable as to whether or not it reaches the flesh of man or only the spirit and soul. Yet in the Incarnation of Christ, and in his public proclamation as the Son of God, we see direct effect of his upcoming Redemption on the cross on our flesh and that the Resurrection of the Flesh is also the consequence of the redeeming Incarnation of Christ in the flesh.
"To you all flesh will come with its burden of sin.
Too heavy for us, our offenses,
but you wipe them away." (Psalm 65)
4- In God's faithfulness is the Hope of all the Earth:
Through the incarnation of Christ, and in his public appearance and declaration that He is the Son of God the Father, we proclaim that God the Father is not only the source of Salvation in Christ, but more so that God is faithful to his promises of Old when He promised to send us a Savior to fill the entire Earth with Hope and to kill death our enemy.
Hear what the psalm tells us:
"You keep your pledge with wonders, O God our savior,
the hope of all the earth
and of far distant isles." (Psalm 65)
We shall continue in the Season of Epiphany meditating over the mystery of our Salvation as Christ will leave his home of his Mother Mary and Joseph his Custodian to make his Way to the Father’s House: The Temple of Jerusalem. Not only this, but we shall see how Jesus himself becomes the House of the Father the Living Temple of God in the Holy Spirit. Christ opens up the universal call to Salvation to all nations by making himself be the Mediator between men and God. Christ renders the Temple to its full meaning and gives it its ultimate purpose when he declares that the Adoration to God happens in the Heart and the Spirit. This is the Gift of Divine Justice that all men are equal in the eyes of God who cherishes all and wills to save all.
God through the specific history of one chosen people opens wide the doors of Heaven to call in all those who are called since the beginning of times: the Children of God.
May God bless us at this Great Feast of the Epiphany and as we greet one another in our Lebanese slang I say to you all: Deyem Deyem (which translation means: Always and Always).
Fr. Andre Y Mahanna