Reflection by Canon Francis Brown, Adm
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. The great Feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (Magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. In the Magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.
The word Epiphany means a revelation. Daily life is full of little epiphanies for those who have eyes to see and minds to reflect. They slip in through the cracks in our busy armour ‒ a moment of peace, or of beauty, or of goodness.
On this day, the Feast of the Epiphany, there was a mysterious parting of the veil which enabled the Magi to catch a glimpse of the radiance of the child of Bethlehem. Some people looked at the Christ-child and saw just another child. Others, such as Herod, saw the child as a threat. But the Magi recognised the Christ-child as their Saviour. All those people had the same eyes, yet they did not see the same things with those eyes. It was faith which enabled the Magi to penetrate the veil and ‘see’ the reality beyond.
Yet for them too, the veil closed again, the star disappeared, and they had to return home. What difference did the experience mean to them? In one sense, it made no difference. They had to go back to their old lives, their old occupations, and so on. However, in another sense, one would like to think that it made the world of difference to them. They now had a new vision, and a new hope.
For them the Epiphany had been one of those moments which takes a short cut to truth. It was a flash of light that illuminated their lives, and invested every moment with significance. No doubt it took time and reflection for them to understand the meaning of what they had found at the end of their journey to Bethlehem. But on cloudy days they drew courage and hope from the Epiphany that had been granted to them.
Like the Magi, on this feast we have come to worship the Christ-child. And, again like the Magi, we have to go back to our homes and get on with our ordinary lives. But hopefully, we will see those lives differently, because we see ourselves differently. In the Divine Child, we see our own divinity. Because of the coming of Christ, we need no longer fear the darkness. A light has come into the world, a light that shines in the dark, a light that no darkness can overpower.