Even though Christian Churches have chosen over the last several years to celebrate some feasts on the Sunday closest to their traditional date, something makes me rebel when January 6th rolls around. When I was a child and didn’t yet comprehend the word Epiphany, I knew we called this day Little Christmas. It was the day when we sang, “We three kings of Orient are bearing gifts we traversed afar…” It was all about gold, frankincense and myrrh and, of course, the star. As I grew older I learned that the visit of the Magi was significant because it represented the fact that the birth of Jesus was celebrated in a much broader way than just by those present when he was born. The word epiphany means a showing, as when the three kings (astrologers?) came to see Jesus. It has also come to be defined more generally as a sudden and profound understanding of something, a sudden realization about the nature or meaning of something.
Jesus came into our world – was incarnated – to manifest God to humanity. The First Letter of John gives us a hint of this profound reality. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us and God’s love is brought to perfection in us…God is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in them. (1 JN 4:11-18) John doesn’t say that God has love for us but rather God is Love. How, then, does Jesus manifest God in the world? By loving, by becoming the incarnation (the coming into flesh) of God. So this means that our call to be the manifestation of God in the world in the following of Jesus is also to be love at all times and in all our actions. Mental recognition of this fact is one thing. Heart recognition takes a lifetime of study – of the Scriptures to see all the ways in which Jesus showed the love of God and of our personal experiences to learn the nature of pure love, both the giving and receiving of it, and from the appreciation of the gift of life itself.
May you be blessed this day with a deeper recognition of the meaning of the reality that God is Love and thus may you grow into your truest self which is also a manifestation of God in the world.