Epiphany Sunday

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: God is born!  Glorify Him!  This is the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ! 

The day of the Epiphany of the Lord is an important and ancient Christian Holy Day.  Unfortunately, it’s little understood and seldom celebrated by many Catholics in America and pales in comparison to the popularity of Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, for example. 

This is regrettable, for Epiphany is a rich and joyous day, which, along with the corresponding Epiphany season, commemorates important events from the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  What does the word EPIPHANY mean?  Well, it comes from two Greek words, the preposition “epi” and the verb “phainen”, and can variously mean “to shine upon”, or “to appear or manifest.” 

What are we celebrating on Epiphany Sunday?  The brief answer is this: Epiphany celebrates God’s revealing or manifesting of Jesus’ identity as true God, Messiah, and Savior of the World.  It not only commemorates the fact that Jesus appeared to save us, but that God revealed the identity of Jesus to the world in the coming of the Holy Magi. 

Why is the Epiphany worth celebrating?  It is worth celebrating because, regardless of when it is commemorated (on January 6th, traditionally, or on the Sunday closest to it), all is permeated with grace and the Gospel.  In what sense?  In the sense that on Epiphany, God took the initiative.  In other words, God did not demand that we discover on our own who Jesus of Nazareth is.  He condescended to us and revealed Jesus to us in ways that we could easily understand.  God sought out the Holy Magi (traditionally called Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) and revealed Jesus’ Person and Mission to them through the Star and the Scriptures.  The Holy Magi never could have discovered this on their own if God hadn’t revealed it all by grace.   

Almighty God took the initiative by His grace and revealed the Holy Christ Child as eternal God as well as man.  Remembering the Epiphany reminds all Catholics that we have been sought out.  God has come looking for us through His Word and Sacraments.  Through these He has revealed His Son Jesus to us personally, so that through faith we know Jesus Christ to be the Mighty God, the Savior of the World; and we believe Him to be our God and Savior.   

In many Catholic lands, Epiphany Day is celebrated as “Little Christmas” and gifts are exchanged and opened in remembrance of the Holy Magi who came to the Christ Child bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  The family Christmas tree is topped with a lighted star in remembrance of the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Magi to the Christ Child.   

This Epiphany Sunday, January 4th, 2009, we celebrate ‘PARISH OPEN HOUSE’ in the Rectory from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm.  I invite all our adult parish volunteers and our parish employees to come and share the wonders of this Christmas time.  No gifts are needed!  Please come and join your fellow parishioner volunteers and employees in thanksgiving for what you do to help keep St. John Parish, School, and Religious Education thriving in this New Year 2009 now before us.  Thank YOU for all you do all year long!  Happy New Year 2009!

                                                                   Have a blessed Epiphany Celebration! 
                                                                                
Devotedly in the Christ Child, 
                                                                                                            
Father Jim 
                                                                         SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com  

                                                                                  Epiphany Lullaby – Psalm 72

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