Letter from the Pastor
Dearest Friends in Christ,
This coming Sunday we will celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord. Biblical scholars speculate that the wise men came to adore the Christ child when he was about two years old. This comes from the scripture passage in Matthew 2:16, which tells us that King Herod ordered every male child in Bethlehem two years and under to be killed. Now does this mean that Jesus was two when the wise men came to adore him? Not necessarily. However, all of this dating of the Christ child is insignificant really when you think about it. The purpose of them being mentioned in the scriptures is to simply show that they, the wise men, are the first fruits of the Gentiles who will receive the call of salvation in Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 528, teaches: “the Epiphany is that feast which celebrates the manifestation to the world of the newborn Christ as Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the world.” In certain places around the world, the Epiphany is celebrated as a holy day of obligation on January 6. However, there are places, such the United States, where the Conference of Catholic Bishops, have assigned the celebration of the Epiphany to the Sunday falling between January 2 and 8. It is a feast that celebrates all three epiphanies of Christ; 1) His epiphany to the Magi at His birth; 2) His epiphany to John the Baptist with His baptism in the Jordan; and 3) His epiphany to the disciples at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee. The Messiah is thus shown to have come to all people throughout the world. By the three gifts of the magi, namely gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Christ is made manifest to the world as the second person of the Trinity (of royalty) having two natures (fully divine and fully human). In other words, the gift of gold shows forth His royalty. The gift of frankincense shows forth His divinity. The gift of myrrh shows forth His humanity as the Suffering Servant.
Maybe think of it this way, during the entire year we as Catholics celebrate the entire life of Christ. Starting with the time of waiting while he is in the womb (Advent) to his birth (Christmas) to his manifestation (Epiphany) to the world to his preaching along Galilee and surrounding areas (Ordinary time) to his final days (Lent) to his Passion (Holy Week) to his suffering, death and resurrection (Easter Triduum/Easter) to his appearance after his resurrection (Easter season) to his Ascension (Ascension) to his sending the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) to the presence in the early days of the Church (the rest of Ordinary time) to his coming again in glory (Christ the King). This is the liturgical year at a glance. So in the Catholic Church the Christmas season traditionally ended with the Epiphany because this is when the Lord makes manifest who he is (Son of God, King of kings: fully God and fully Man = represented in the gifts) to the world represented by the Magi.
And so let us join these wise men, these magi or kings and make our offering to our Lord daily. Also let us ask them to teach us the way which leads to Christ, so that every day we can take him our own gold, our own incense and our own myrrh.
Pax et bonum,
Fr. Justin R. Ferguson