Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Epiphany of Our Lord

A few things about Epiphany might be surprising at first when looking at Matthew says about the birth of Christ, the first of which is that the magi didn't come to the stable where Jesus was born. I always remember my mom setting up our nativity scene in our home for Christmas with the "wise men" at another part of the room, far away, traveling to Jesus. Then, twelve days after Christmas, on Epiphany, she would move the wise men over to the rest of the nativity scene. Matthew says that the magi came to "the house" (see Matthew 2:1-12, especially verses 1 and 11). So they came after his birth and after Joseph and Mary had taken Jesus to some house where they were able to stay.

Another is the notion of "three wise men". Not that there's anything wrong with saying that there were three, it's just that Matthew doesn't tell us how many. He simply tells us that the magi were looking for the Messiah and when they found Him they gave Him gifts. Since gold, frankincense, and myrrh were listed (three gifts) people have often referred to three wise men. But there could have been many of the magi and we don't know in what quantities they gave the gifts to Jesus.

At Epiphany the song of Simeon at the temple was already coming to fruition ("a light to lighten the Gentiles") as the gentile magi had been led by the light of the star to the Light of the World. If Mary and Joseph had been surprised about the statements of the shepherds and Simeon, imagine how they felt when they saw the magi bowing down before their Son, who is the very King of the universe and the Savior of the world.

No comments: