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  • Writer's pictureFr Robert Randall McDonald Bagwell

Right in your face - God

The Epiphany comes the thirteenth day after Christmass when the Western Church celebrates the arrival of the three wise men. Scripture never says they were at the manger in Bethlehem in spite of the millions of stables and crèche scenes over the last several centuries. By the way, it was St. Francis of Assisi who created the Creche to teach the largely unlearned and illiterate people about the Christmass and Epiphany stories.

Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” and speaks to us of the Good News being shared with the non Jews, ie the Gentiles, of the world. The word means “manifestation”, as one of the hymns proclaims “God in man, made manifest.” For the majority of Christians, this is but more “good news” for if Jesus came only to save the Jews, as some erroneously taught, then the rest of humanity is lost. It was true from the beginning that God was seekng to “draw the whole world to himself.” God wanted to transcend our humanity and draw us up into God’s Divinity. The Eastern Church calls this “theosis.” This is what is meant by many when they speak of “sanctification”. Peter’s epistle speaks of it when he wrote: Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

The Eastern Christians celebrate this as Christmass itself followed as in the Western Church by the Baptism of Jesus, when He identified Himself with those for whom He came to live and die. This continues the Good News of the Divine love story with humanity. Whereas there is no shout of victory as on Easter, there is also a profound realization of the love of a God, largely neglected, ignored, maligned and even hated by the majority of those whom God created. For the west, we can see this ultimate feast of the Epiphany as the celebration of the first profound miracle. Jesus is for the first time proclaimed both to the whole world and by Name as the Savior of the World. The Wise Men, called Magi by some, are said to have come from Persia / Babylon where the book of Daniel tells us Daniel was chief of those Magi and who shared with that culture and people the prophecy of a Savior who would come to save the Jews and ultimately the whole world. This is a further tie of the Testaments to show as I believe that there is only one Testament, the New fulfilling the Old and completing the story.

This Christmas / Epiphany cycle tells of of the first great miracle: God becomes human, is born as a human yet God, grows as a human and grows into the day of His anointing by the Godhead at His baptism by which He identifies with us and we with Him. Now as we recall His experiencing what we all do, we will rehearse it all again as we participate in Lent and then His appointment with destiny as God has also given us an appointment with destiny. He did not simply save us to sit but to serve as those marked by the Holy Spirit and fire to share the loving, sacrificial and ultimately redeeming salvation of God with the whole world. A blessed Epiphany beloved! RRMB+

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