The manifestation of the Lord
This feast originated in the Eastern, Greek-speaking portion of the Church during the 3rd century. This 3rd century feast was known as the Feast of the manifestation of the Lord(or epifania, in Greek), and it honored the Baptism of Christ, when the Spirit descended upon him, and the Father claimed him as his own. This Epifania carried a second theme in addition to the Baptism of the Lord. Epifania also carried the memory of the Nativity, as Christmas is also a manifestation of the Lord.
This feast of the manifestation of the Lord (his birth and his baptism) slowly moved westward, to the Latin-speaking portion of the Church (Rome and all that is now called “the west”); but as Epiphany began to be celebrated in the liturgy of the Latin Church, it slowly lost its Baptismal character. In its place, the Latin Church began to remember the visitation of the Magi, and how the Lord was manifested to all through these wise men of the East. In this reconfigured feast, Epiphany for the Latin Church became the sign of Christ’s embrace of the Gentile world. In 1955 The Holy Father established the Sunday following Epiphany to stand as the feast of Baptism.
For us then, today’s Solemnity of Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of the Lord, that Jesus of Nazareth, the long-awaited Messiah-King of Israel is at the same time…Savior and Lord…for all. And this was seen by the wisdom of the East, as the child was cared for in a cave, stabled in simplicity of surrounded by love.
The question that we are asked by this same Lord:
He says to us today…I have given you all you need…
how will your life be a manifestation of My life?
How are you shining in my Light?