The 6th of January, the Epiphany, celebrates the journey of the Magi and their adoration of the Christ Child. The word Epiphany derives from two Greek roots, epiphaneia an appearing and phainein meaning to show forth.
The feast demonstrates a very important aspect of Christ’s purpose as Messiah, and fulfills the Old Testament prophesies that the Jewish Messiah is a Saviour of all men, not just the chosen, ethnic, blood descendants of Abraham.
“God can raise up children for Abraham from these very stones.”
At His birth, angels told the shepherds where Christ was to be found, but now we have new visitors coming to worship. The magi are rich, exotic, men of the Far East, men who were, in short, not Jewish. Their method of finding the birth of the Great King was born of their own traditions. Still, they needed to consult the scribes and wise men of Israel to discern the exact location of the Child’s birth, the information being contained in the Hebrew Scriptures. This is the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, the first melting away of ethnic distinction, and the first forming of a new distinction.
Because of Our Blessed Lord, baptism and the Spirit have formed a new people. The Holy Spirit manifests this Jesus of Nazareth as God’s beloved Son in context of John’s baptism of repentance. Christ did not require a baptism of repentance or a washing away of any offense against God, but, rather, His baptism by John cleansed all the waters of the earth so that it might be used to set apart a new people, a chosen people. He who changed the water into wine at the Marriage Feast of Cana has done a greater thing still. He has ordained water as the matter by which His Holy Church by grace should inscribe salvation on the souls of God’s new elect.
While our traditional celebration of the Nativity has a hint of humility, for we celebrate Christ's coming as a Child into poverty, the Epiphany foreshadows the coming triumphant celebration proper to Easter. The Epiphany demonstrates that those who possess the religion of the Old Testament are those who possess the religion of the New, Christ’s chosen. We Christians, not the ethnic, blood descendants of Abraham, we Christians, through the Mercy of God, we are the true Children of Abraham, the new people of the Promise.