The Feast of the “Epiphany” marks the end of Christmas, and the Gospel of Matthew focuses primarily on the revelation of the infant Jesus as the Christ to the three wise men.
Pope Francis in his first Epiphany homily in 2014 as pontiff, reminded us that our lives were a continual search for the “the Light” of Jesus, and that the: “destiny of every person is symbolized in the journey of the Magi of the East: our life is a journey, illuminated by the lights which brighten our way, to find the fullness of truth and love which we Christians recognize in Jesus, the Light of the World.”
It is interesting to recall that the Feast of the Epiphany pre-dates Christmas, and its celebration has developed rich cultural traditions in different parts of the world. Here in Ireland, Epiphany is traditionally known as “Women’s Christmas” or “Little Christmas” and was supposed to be a day of rest for women from cooking, housework and cleaning. However, any traditional gathering of women for high tea with wine to honour the miracle at the wedding of Cana will more than likely have to be postponed. For many 2020, due to the reality of COVID-19, was a very challenging year because of the upheavals of so much that was taken for granted, especially for families that suffered the death of a loved one.
But 2020 was also a year that demonstrated the importance of the values of solidarity and the common good over the shortcomings of autonomy and individualism in a time of crisis. Therefore, as we begin 2021, peoples, including believers and non-believers, all around the world are looking forward with hope for a better year ahead.
So, no matter how the feast of the Epiphany is celebrated today, it points us towards the mystery of the incarnation and the first encounter of three gentiles with Christ. Three risk-takers in faith searching for the truth in foreign lands, which may be a good metaphor for believers in Ireland today. They were lucky in that they had a bright light to guide them. For us Christians, our guiding star can only be the person of Jesus Christ, whose example and word are our light in creating a better, more just, and human world.