The essence of celebration


January 2: Epiphany.Readings: 1. Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm: 72; 2. Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6; Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12.  

This feast’s word of the day is “epiphany”, a word that comes from the ancient Greek language. It indicates the act of showing or revealing something. The function of these readings, therefore, aids a deeper understanding of why the birth of Jesus is such an important event.  

Starting with Isaiah makes us think about the nature of his words. Their key image is the great light that will envelop all the earth and dispel the darkness that has held it captive. This is a hopeful, uplifting message of future gladness. Its forward-looking outlook prepares us to welcome the most precious gift that the Lord can offer to all peoples on earth. So, Isaiah’s line of thought here opens up the prospect of that looming historical moment when all will be revealed.  

The verses taken from Ephesians add to that sense of the dawning of a new era. For this Pauline text speaks of the mystery that came to be fully revealed in the person of Christ Jesus, along with the Gospel he preached and enacted. Of great significance here is what is to be revealed. It is something for all humankind, both Jews and Gentiles, to ponder and recognise as a unique gift of spiritual insight.  

Matthew’s unique narrative recounting the visit of the foreigners from the East, that is the Magi, adds further significance to the Christ-child’s birth. Providentially guided by the light of a bright star, their arrival in Bethlehem and then swift departure, herald the importance of their visit. The precious gifts they offered the child Jesus highlight this birth’s universal significance.  

These readings appropriately signal the essence of this festal celebration. As privileged members of the faith community, we rightly accept the joyful call to proclaim this message of Good News.  


Fr Kevin Waldie sm