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For many Christians, the Feast of the Epiphany (which is also known as Little Christmas in Ireland) marks the end of the Christmas season. Yet the Epiphany is at the heart of the Christmas message. The word ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ or ‘showing’. Fundamentally, the Christian vocation is to show Jesus and his glory to the world. The Epiphany acknowledges that Jesus Christ, the newborn baby, is the Saviour of all people.
During the Christmas season, we reflect on what it means to believe that the Word became flesh and lived among us. God has chosen to live among us, the people, in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, who saves us from the justly deserved consequences of our sins.
This is why we celebrate Christmas. All other activities associated with Christmas — for example, the exchange of gifts, the holidays from school and work, the visits to family and friends — are secondary. The real wonder of Christmas is not just that God became human in and through his Son, Jesus Christ, but that Christ, through his Church, continues to be present in our world.
Christmas and the Epiphany challenge us to renew our appreciation of the commitment God has made to us by becoming human. In the person and life of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, God has demonstrated beyond all doubt how much he loves us and shares his life with us. God shares his life with us especially through the Church and the sacraments. In the person and life of Jesus Christ, God has embraced human nature completely and he has become one with it. This is the mystery of Christmas and it remains true for all time and for all God’s people everywhere.
The Feast of the Epiphany invites us to consider once again the real meaning of Christmas and to respond accordingly. The wise men, in presenting Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, acknowledged him as Saviour of all people. The feast invites us to ask: what gift can we present to Jesus that acknowledges him as our Saviour?
Surely the most appropriate gift is striving to live a life that imitates his teaching and example. Therefore, the Epiphany is an ideal time to reflect on the practice of our Christian faith so that, during the coming year, we will ‘show’ the world the glory of the Saviour who has redeemed us from sin and who gives us life through his Church and the celebration of the sacraments