Last week I told you that Christmas is so important that we celebrate it not just for a day but for a whole season. This season is filled with feasts (holy days) that help us celebrate and understand the meaning of Christmas more completely. We have already celebrated Christ’s birth on Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Family last Sunday, and the Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God on New Year’s Day.
Today we celebrate another great Feast of the Christmas Season, the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means to ‘reveal or make known something which was hidden.’ We call this feast Epiphany because the star revealed to the Magi, or Wise Men, that the baby lying in the manager was no ordinary baby. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Savior of the World.
For us today, the Epiphany is an invitation to think prayerfully about a few things. First, we should ask ourselves how we ‘reveal’ our faith each day. Are people able to ‘see’ Jesus in us? Acts of charity, attendance at Holy Mass, if our health permits that at this time, and humility and patience in dealing with others are some ways we can reveal our faith to the world.
Secondly, the Epiphany invites us to see the universal nature of Christ’s mission. The fact that the Magi were foreigners who came from far-away places reminds us that Jesus came for all people. This is one reason why our Catholic Church teaches respect for every human person, from the immigrant to the old friend to the very ill to the unborn child. How well do we live up to this?
Finally, the gifts of the Magi invite us to ask ourselves what gifts we will give Jesus in this New Year. Will we devote ourselves more completely to prayer? Be more generous towards the poor? Strive to grow in patience or break some bad habit? Think about this today!
Some of us are old enough to remember when Epiphany was the end of the Christmas Season. Since the reform of the Church calendar following Vatican II in the 1960’s, the Season extends thru the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which will be celebrated next Sunday. This means that, as Catholics, our Christmas Season still has a week to go.
Try to keep the Christmas spirit alive in your home and heart this week. Keep the trees and decorations up, play Christmas music, and most of all, continue to meditate and reflect on the birth of Jesus. Make the most of the Christmas Season the Church gives us, so that the joy of Christ’s birth may truly touch your heart and be evident in your life throughout this New Year.
Please also try to pray that Hail Mary for me each day. I am so grateful for the prayers that so many of you offer for me and our parish. As this New Year unfolds, let’s continue to pray for each other and for peace.
Happy New Year!