The Solemnity of the Epiphany, which we celebrate during Christmastide, is one of many epiphanies of the Lord—a revelation of "God Among Us" that manifested His presence and power as our Savior.
The word epiphany comes from the Greek, and means “a manifestation, appearance, or revelation.”
When we think of “the epiphany,” we usually think only of the Epiphany in which the three Magi arrived from the East, paying homage to the Newborn King with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And that is certainly is "The Great Epiphany."
When we celebrate this special feast, however, the Church also includes two other Epiphanies: the Epiphany at the Lord's Baptism and the Epiphany at Cana.
The Other Two Epiphanies
The Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan River was an important manifestation of the identity of the Christ, and a revelation of the Holy Trinity. Heaven opened for God the Son; God the Father’s voice proclaimed Him; God the Holy Spirit came in the form of a dove to hover over Him. (Matthew 3: 13-17) This Epiphany was for those present at the Jordan that day.
At the wedding feast at Cana, Christ performed his first miracle, manifesting His divinity and authority as the Son of God by turning water into wine at the request of his Mother. His disciples received this Epiphany, and Scripture proclaims that they “began to believe.” (John 2: 1-11)
The Wedding Feast at Cana by Julius Schnoor Von Carolsfeld
Manifestations of the Lord
Mary received a kind of epiphany at the Annunciation when, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Second Person of the Trinity was manifested as Jesus, whose name means “God saves.” (Luke 1:26-33)
Soon the Spirit inspired Elizabeth to proclaim Christ when welcoming her cousin Mary during the Visitation. (Luke 1:41-45)
Then the three pagan Kings received their epiphany and followed the star to adore the Newborn King. (Matthew 2:1-12) The messianic promise was made manifest to these Gentiles, demonstrating that all people can seek and worship the one Savior of the World.
The Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon, in a personal epiphany, that he would not see death until he beheld the Messiah.
Simeon’s every longing was wrapped up in the newborn babe whom he cradled at the Presentation in the temple. He blessed the Holy Family in another epiphany, revealing Christ, and foretelling the suffering of Our Lady.
Anna the prophetess joined Simeon in this revelation, giving thanks to God, and prophesying about the Child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel. (Luke 2:27-38).
Presentation in the Temple by Simon Vouet
Twelve years later, the adolescent Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph began the journey home from their Passover pilgrimage. They later found their son in the temple among the teachers, manifesting His wisdom. This epiphany was given to the most learned men of Jerusalem, and they were amazed at His understanding. (Luke 2: 41-52)
Recognizing the Epiphanies in Our Lives
Epiphany is not just a single event, but a series of manifestations—a constant revelation of God’s love for us and His power to save us. It is the power of "God Among Us."
How is God revealing Himself in your life today? Where are you finding Him?
The Three Wise Men were pagans, and probably did not understand the revelation to the Israelites, but they responded to the Star of Bethlehem and their inner yearnings.
Many generations later, we have the benefit of understanding who Christ is. We recognize His manifestations in our lives by attentively watching and waiting. We won't understand everything He's doing, but if we are vigilant, we can see Him accomplishing His will, one epiphany at a time.
We can prepare to meet God in our midst by having a lively faith and a living hope. We can make a way for Him by living in gratitude for even the smallest of blessings. He will not hesitate to bring epiphanies to each of us, as He has done throughout the ages.
Why Don't We See?
Despite what we know today, in some ways, we are no different than the ancient ones who awaited His coming and did not recognize Him.
The appearance of the power of God in our lives is often so mysterious, so far beyond our comprehension, that we often miss His revelations as they unfold. Maybe we are focused on our own ideas, or even our own gods.
Maybe we don't know Him through prayer, or we cannot open our hearts because of wounds and hurts we don’t even understand. Maybe we believe we are beyond His reach, or that our God cannot do something new.
Still, His epiphanies come to us, whether we recognize them or not, because God never fails to show Himself, manifesting His love and mercy, and revealing His power in intimate and personal ways.
Where To Go From Here
What’s He doing in your life right now? Whom is He working through to do it? Are you watching for Him?
Be poised for miracles—both the grand and the imperceptible. Look for Him to manifest His love in your life, and He will lead you to epiphanies beyond your wildest imagination, as you embrace the mystery of a life in Christ.
How has God shown Himself in your life recently? What helps you to prepare for His epiphanies and watch for Him?
What's getting in the way? We’d like to know. Please share with us here.