Merry Christmas: Today is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
Epiphany comes from the Greek meaning “to appear” or “manifestation.” The earliest recorded celebration of the feast was in 361 when Christians celebrated the coming of the “wise men from the East.” We celebrate these travelers because it shows that Jesus Christ came not only for the Jews but for the Gentiles as well.
The Three Kings
The second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is the only description of the magi. We would have called them astrologers because they looked to the stars to explain and predict events on Earth. We would also call them astronomers because they used the best science of their day to explain the skies and the planet. They would have been some of the most learned people in the know world.
Matthew did not record if they were kings or even the actual number. Tradition says there were three because of the three gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh. Who else could afford these gifts or would be willing to bring them to the newborn King but other kings.
Ancient tradition has assigned these three men with the names of Gaspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. This tradition from the year 500 also says they are from Babylon, Persia, and Ethiopia. Some have offered that one could have been from China.
Scripture does not record what the Holy Family did with the gifts.
Based on when Herod massacred the infant boys, the magi came at least two years after the birth of Jesus.
Many of the foods associated with Epiphany were covered in yesterday’s discussion of Twelfth Night. Another common practice on this day is to take down Christmas decorations.
In Louisiana, today marks the preparation for the Carnival before Lent begins.
Burn a candle all day in memory of the star that guided the Magi and the Light of the World they found.
What is Most Important
Of course, none of the traditions really matter. What is most important is that the wisest people of the time understood the teaching of a foreign religion (the magi were not Jews) and traveled hundreds of miles on foot to worship Jesus as their King and ours.
Come, let us adore Him.