My mother, God have mercy on her, used to call this Old Christmas Day. I was never quite sure where the term came from. I have vague memories of being told that it had something to do with the change in the calendar a couple of centuries ago but I am not sure.
Whatever the origin of the name is does not really matter; this is still a very beautiful feast. The second reading from St Paul says about the mystery of Jesus:
“It means that pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Jesus Christ, through the gospel.”
The visit of the three Magi are the sign of this. They are the representatives of the whole gentile world who go to Bethlehem to pay homage to the new king of Israel. It is strange that foreigners recognize the new king before the people of Israel do, and what is even more striking is the attitude of Herod and the authorities to the new born king: they want to kill him.
The Epiphany means the ‘showing’ or appearance of Jesus to the world. Epiphany is a word that means the self-showing of a deity to his servants. Indeed, for us Catholics, this feast is the beginning of the whole life of Jesus as a showing of his divinity to the world, or ‘God with us.’
Christmas Day is God coming to us. Today, the Magi represent those of us who wish to go out to meet Jesus: the symbolism of this feast is wonderful.
Do people see God's gift showing through your actions and deeds?