Epiphany is for many of us the end of the Christmas season. Tomorrow, the day after, we will take the lights and ornaments off the tree in the monastic common room and consign the arboreal remnants to the designated pickup area for the City trash people to haul it away. And so the “holiday season”, as the merchants have convinced so many of us to call it, comes to an end.
But for Christians Epiphany is not an end but a beginning. Epiphany is the time of showing forth. What happened to some out of the way people in an out of the way place, noticed by shepherds and magi but apparently by no one else at the time, will come out of the shadows into the light.
The monastic liturgies of Epiphany — particularly the Divine Office — are constant reminders of the different ways Christ was manifested to the world. We have already celebrated the Circumcision, now called Holy name, on January 1, when He was proclaimed to His own people as a little boy of the people of Israel. This Sunday we will observe the Baptism of Christ, in which Jesus joined himself to the prophetic movement and the Voice proclaimed His identity.
The Gospel readings for Sundays in Epiphany follow some of the many manifestations of Christ to the world in his wonderful works and words. As the antiphon for the Benedictus at Epiphany proclaimed to us this morning, “Today Christ the bridegroom cleanses the Church of her sins; the Magi hasten to the wedding feast, and water is turned into wine, alleluia!” In the proclamation of Christ events are conflated and time is foreshortened. The Magi could not have attended the wedding at Cana, but we are privileged to attend it and every other event of Christ’s life in faith by anamnesis, the act of not-forgetting.
And so Epiphany culminates with the Transfiguration, Jesus standing on a mountain with Moses and Elijah, the mystical representation of His nature as the hinge of the world, the Old standing side to side with him as He prepares to initiate the New through his passion, death and resurrection.
The monks of Mount Calvary Monastery invite you to join the Christian world in making the light of Christ known. As the days lengthen and the time of each day’s light increases, so may our hearts increasingly overflow with joy that Christ is born and made manifest to a world that so sorely needs His hope.