Thursday, January 11, 2018

Spirituality: “The Great Manifestation” by Richard Gaillardetz

This liturgical feat has a rich and complicated history. It originated in the East where the feat celebrated the declaration of Jesus’ divine identity at his baptism (“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”). Some other ancient traditions associated Epiphany with the performance of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana. In the Western Church the Feast of Epiphany celebrates the story we find in today’s Gospel, the wise men’s adoration of the infant Jesus. What all three of these biblical events share is a public “manifestation” (the Greek meaning of the word “epiphany”) and acknowledgement of Jesus’ true identity.

The feasts of the Nativity (Christmas) and Epiphany are bound together. Christmas invites our contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation: God became human in Jesus of Nazareth. With the feast of Epiphany the camera view widens to take in a range of human responses to the Incarnation. Perhaps these epiphanies led the wise men, the witnesses to Jesus’ baptism, and the wedding guests at Cana to recognize that they need not escape the world to find God; God had come to them.

If Christmas celebrates the Incarnation, Epiphany calls forth the spiritual habits of recognition. Do we have the spiritual vision to identify the humble and unexpected epiphanies occurring daily in our own lives? Are we as driven as the wise men to seek out the presence of God in the embrace of our spouse or child, in the face of an annoying coworker, in the panhandler on the street corner?

Source: Give Us This Day, January, 2017, page 87.