FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
Sunday 7/8 January
Officially called “The Epiphany of the Lord,” this feast celebrates the epiphany, manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, symbolized by Christ’s manifestation to the Magi (wise Men). The feast originally was more closely connected to Jesus’ baptism, the primary theme of the feast in Eastern Churches to this day. In addition, other manifestations of Christ were often commemorated during Epiphany, including the miracle at Cana. In fact, it has been asserted that the Baptism of the lord, the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Magi and the miracle at Cana all historically occurred on January 6 (see Abbot Gueranger’s works). Whether this is true is contested, but either way, the Epiphany solemnity is celebrated on January 6, which falls within Christmastide. In some Catholic regions, the feast is translated to a Sunday.
The Eastern Churches often call the holiday Theophany, which means “manifestation of God.” Eastern Christians also refer to the Epiphany as “Holy Lights” because they baptise on this day, and baptism brings about illumination. Traditionally, Epiphany marked the end of the twelve days of Christmas.
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THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Monday 9th January
Why was Jesus baptised? He was sinless; the bath of repentance could not make Him holy. In Matthew’s Gospel account of the this moment in the life of Christ, the former tax collector records the brief exchange where Jesus tells his cousin John; “Let it be so now for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” The humanity of the God Man, perfect as it was, still had to be subjected to Baptism in accordance with the Father’s plan, so that Christ “the firstborn of many brethren,” could establish the pattern that His brothers were later to follow. At His Baptism, it was not Jesus who was cleansed, but the waters themselves which were purified by their encounter with spotless Lamb of God. Now, water, a mere physical substance, confers Spirit, grace, light and love – the very life of God Himself – to the souls of those baptised.
At the close of the Christmas Season at the dawn of the third millennium, we are reminded of the power of this great sacrament which immerses us in the life, death and resurrection of the One who was baptised so many centuries ago. The guilt of original sin is washed away. An indelible sacrament character conforms us to Christ.
The Holy Spirit is given as a gift, and abides continually in the soul…and God the Father leads us to embrace our eternal destiny with Him, by the grace conferred upon us by Jesus Christ, whose own baptism we celebrate today.
A NEW YEAR PRAYER
Holy Father, God of our yesterdays, our today, and tomorrows.
We praise You for Your unequaled greatness.
Thank You for the year behind us and for the year ahead.
Help us in Your new year, Father, to fret less and laugh more.
To teach others to love by loving them.
Knowing, when Love came to the stable in Bethlehem, He came for us.
So that Love could be with us, and we could know You.
That we could share Love with others.
Thank You for another new year and for new chances every day.
We pray for peace, for light, and for hope, that we might spread them to others.
Forgive us for falling short this past year.
We leave the irreparable past in your hands, and step out into the unknown new year knowing You will go with us.
We accept Your gift of a new year and we rejoice in what’s ahead, depending on You to help us do exactly what You want.
We ask this in Christ our lord.