THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD: THE HIGH POINT OF THE CHRISTMAS FEAST
Stella Quam Viderant Magi
Processional Hymn, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Epiphany of Our Lord, Misa Cantata, January 6, 2017, 7:30 PM
In the photo shown here (taken by Paul Eldridge) I am carrying the figure of the Christ Child who is to be placed in the Crib at the beginning of Mass on Christmas Eve. This is one of the wonderful devotional traditions surrounding the liturgical observance of Christmas, and it helps us to represent the Mystery in a simple and human way: Christ’s appearance on earth is enacted by our placing the Christ Child in His manger.
The Epiphany of Our Lord is the repetition of the Mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and His appearance on earth. Christmas Day (December 25th) and the Epiphany (January 6th) both proclaim this same Mystery. “Our God has appeared on the earth and dwelt amongst us.”
In the Western/Latin liturgical tradition the gap between the Nativity of the Lord and the Epiphany is filled in by a twelve-day journey of the Magi as they follow a star in the heavens from their land in the east to Bethlehem (hence, the Twelve Days of Christmas). “We have seen His star in the East, and have with gifts to adore the Lord.” You will notice that the Three Kings of our Nativity scene are now in place.
This feast of the Epiphany is the high-point of our celebration of the Christmas feast. God has become Man in Jesus Christ and has dwelt amongst us. He comes as the universal Savior of mankind. All the nations of the earth are drawn to recognize their Savior and, by faith in Him, to receive the promise of Eternal Life. Let us open our hearts to the grace of this second Christmas feast-day, the Epiphany.