Jan 8 — Epiphany of the Lord
Epiphany, also known as Theophany in Eastern Christian traditions, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and thus Jesus Christ’s physical manifestation to the Gentiles. It is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, and in some traditions celebrated as Little Christmas. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide.
Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. The spot marked by Al-Maghtas in Jordan, adjacent to Qasr al-Yahud in the West Bank, is considered to be the original site of the baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.
The traditional date for the feast is January 6. However, since 1970, the celebration is held in some countries on the Sunday after January 1. Those Eastern Churches which are still following the Julian calendar observe the feast on what, according to the internationally used Gregorian calendar, is January 19, because of the current 13-day difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
…and falling to their knees, they did him homage. Then opening their treasures…”
This year, I returned to Singapore for two weeks in December, and spent the Christmas season with my family there. Because of all the travel and quarantine restrictions imposed by the US, Singapore and Australia, we had not seen each other since 2018.
Homecomings after long absences are an epiphany of sorts. You see with your heart, not with your head. You see how old everyone is, and in turn, how old you yourself have become. You see the fragility of your relationships — how people can die and leave you before you’ve said your goodbyes; how children grow up and the time you had with them is lost; how parents grow frail and the time you thought you still had with them isn’t so certain anymore. Coming home, it is evident to me that Time has continued its unyielding march in my absence, and that I have lost something precious from us all being apart for so long.
The Magi’s epiphany — who the Christ Child was, the significance of Christ’s birth despite its circumstances, their part in the arc of the story — all those revelations were possible because they saw with their hearts and not their heads. They could read the signs, and were able to act accordingly. Very often, those signs, though all around us, are not so easy to discern. We don’t see because we get distracted by our daily routines. Or because proximity lulls us into taking things for granted. Or because we put our ‘to-do’ lists before God. And even if we do manage to discern them, we don’t always have the fortitude to act on them. Because acting on them is often not convenient for us, or it requires us to change our plans.
Last week, we read that Mary perceived all that was happening around her, and kept it in her heart. She reflected on it, prayed on it, and because she did, understood her part in the role of the story, even when not all the information was available from the outset. I pray for some of that same awareness and some of that fortitude, that I too can be conscious of Life’s evanescence, how fleeting but important Life’s moments are, and what I must do to play my part in the arc of His story. I pray that God gives me a heart that is big enough so that I too, can store it all up and reflect on it.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for the fortitude and awareness to recognize Life’s key moments, even when not all of the information is available to us.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all the people He has put in our lives. We give thanks for all the moments we have shared together, all the memories we have made, and the impact that they have had in shaping who we are.
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