“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.”
What is Epiphany?
The Epiphany is the feast of the manifestation of the majesty and divinity of the newborn Savior. As early as the third century, the Eastern Church, in celebrating the birth of the Redeemer, viewed it primarily as the manifestation of God to man. Hence the name Epiphany, which means manifestation, was given to the feast. Toward the end of the fourth century, as the feast gradually came to be known and celebrated in the West, the adoration of the Christ-Child by the Magi or Wise Men was stressed. Soon these sages were looked upon as the Three Kings.
In order to strengthen and reinforce this divine manifestation to the Magi, the Church commemorates on this feast two other incidents, both of which strongly testify to the divinity of Christ: His baptism in the Jordan and the first miracle at the marriage feast in Cana. In this way, the Redeemer, whose coming was known imperfectly at Christmas, is made known to the whole world. Thus we have three supernatural interventions: the star that guided the Magi from the East, the wine miraculously brought into being from water, and the voice of the Father ringing out from the heavens, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).
If the Feast of Epiphany is to be fully understood as the Church sees it, it will have to be viewed from two aspects: that of God who manifested Himself to man, and that of man, typified in the Magi, who responded with wholehearted faith and love. It is, therefore, a day of faith and grace on which no other prayer ought to take precedence over that petition of the Our Father, “Thy Kingdom Come!”
Excerpts from With Christ Through the Year, Rev. Bernard Strasser, O.S.B.