“O God, You Who by the guidance of a star this day revealed Your only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant that we who know You now by faith, may come to behold You in glory.”
”Today is the time of feasting, and the ranks of saints and angels have joined us in celebration
Today the grace of the all-holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove comes down upon the waters
Today shines the Sun that never sets”
Today is the feast of Epiphany and Theophany, also known as “Twelfth Night.” The Twelve Days of Christmas aren’t just a song—there are traditionally twelve days after Dec. 25 also celebrated as Christmas, ending on Jan. 6. Catholics still celebrate the Epiphany, but even among Protestants in some areas, particularly 18th-century America, “Twelfth Night” used sometimes to be a bigger celebration than Christmas Day. There are various wonderful ways to celebrate the feast, including the king cakes and other traditions I have previously described, but what exactly is the feast about? Epiphany commemorates the coming of the three kings or Magi to adore the Christ Child (Matt. 2), and Theophany commemorates Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River (Matt. 3) and the revelation of the Trinity that followed it.
There is obvious importance to these two Biblical feasts, celebrated simultaneously today (along with Jesus’s first miracle at Cana, John 2), with the Epiphany more emphasized in the West and the Theophany more emphasized in the East. Epiphany represents the first time it was clear that the Messiah came not only for God’s chosen people, the Jews, but for the whole world (the “Gentiles”). The three gifts of the Magi are also significant in revealing Jesus’s various roles, as the Divine Priest (frankincense, which was and is used in religious liturgies), as the sacrifice for the sins of the world (myrrh, used to embalm dead bodies), and as the King of the Universe (gold).
Meanwhile, Theophany shows the vital importance of baptism; connects the Old and New Testaments since St. John the Baptist is the last prophet of the Old Law; and reveals the mystery of the Triune God, one God in three persons.
Have a blessed Epiphany and Theophany!
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