Epiphany means “manifestation”. This feast now has general acceptance throughout the universal Church. God manifests the divine mission of Jesus Christ when a miraculous star reveals Jesus’ birth to the kings of the East, thus fulfilling the prophecy that “a star will arise from Jacob.”
These Wise Men understand that the star is announcing the Savior-King, destined to be born of the Jews. They come to honor Him in spite of the difficulties and dangers of a long and tedious journey through deserts.
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. “The Lord and ruler is coming; kingship is his, and government and power.” With these words the Church proclaims that today’s feast brings to a perfect fulfillment all the purposes of Advent. Epiphany, therefore, marks the liturgical zenith of the Advent-Christmas season. — Pius Parsch
The Solemnity of the Epiphany is on January 6, but we celebrate it on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. It commemorates the young Messiah as the light of the nations.
As the antiphon for the Magnificat at Second Vespers reminds us, this solemnity encompasses three mysteries: the adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, the Baptism of Christ and the wedding feast at Cana. We may place extra candles and/or lamps around the sanctuary and in other parts of the church to honor Christ revealed as the Light of the Gentiles (Ceremonial of Bishops). It is customary to replace the images of the shepherds at the crib with the three Magi and their gifts gold, frankincense and myrrh.
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