This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Epiphany. It is celebrated differently in other countries. Here in the United States it is simply another Sunday Liturgy following the Holy Family Sunday within the Octave of Christmas with no real fanfare, except we place the three Magi statues at the nativity scene. In some of the Western European countries it is on this day that gifts are exchanged, not on Christmas itself.
Epiphany commemorates the revelation of Jesus to the world. The three Magi, after searching for years are able to find the Christ child. Since Christmas, our manger scene in Church has shown over the past days that the Magi were not present at Bethlehem, but after talking to King Herod and then going to Bethlehem and with the help of the star were guided to Nazareth. Here they according to the Gospels presented their precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi represent the peoples of the world other than the Jewish people. Christ was to be the savior of all peoples, not just the Jews. Traditional nativity scenes portray the skin color of the Magi as white, black and red. It was the theologian Tertullian writing in the third century who first called them “almost “ kings. The names of Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthasar were first mentioned in the sixth century. By the Middles Ages devotion to the Magi was popular all over Europe. They were venerated as saints and their images appeared in different forms of art.
As we begin this New Year, may each of us make every effort to live the Christmas message of love, peace and joy every day of 2019. Let these be our New Year’s resolutions. If we lose a few pounds or give up some of our bad habits, so much the better. But if we truly lived the Christmas message, we could affect not only our lives, but the lives of many of those around us. Smiles and forgiveness are contagious and as the Christ Child holds out His arms in the manger, He invites each of us to follow His example