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The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

Sunday January 5, 2025

Mass Readings for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

  • First ReadingIsaiah 60:1-6: Jerusalem, arise! Your light and the Lord's glory shine upon you, attracting nations and kings. Joyfully, your sons and daughters return, bringing wealth and praise to the Lord.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 72: God's wisdom and justice in the king will usher in an era of fairness, peace, and expansive dominion, earning tributes from afar and devotion from all nations.
  • Second ReadingEphesians 3:2-3A, 5-6: God's grace entrusted to me reveals a mystery: Gentiles are fellow heirs with Jews, part of one body, sharing the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
  • GospelMatthew 2:1-12: Magi from the east, guided by a star, sought the newborn King of the Jews in Jerusalem, unsettling King Herod and the city. Informed by religious leaders about the prophesied birth in Bethlehem, Herod deceitfully instructed the magi to report back after finding the child. Following the star, the magi reached Jesus, worshiping Him and offering gifts. They returned home by another way, divinely warned to avoid Herod.

Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.

Matthew 2:2

Themes for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. The feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord commemorates when Jesus Christ was revealed as the Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew recounts that three wise men from the East visited our savior after his birth and acknowledged him with gifts representing kingship, priesthood, and death.

The readings for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord tell of the revelation of Jesus Christ to all people. The first reading tells of a light in Jerusalem which all nations are drawn to. The psalm foretells kings bringing gifts. The second reading explains how God's grace is now known to all generations and the whole world. The gospel recalls how the Magi came from afar to worship the child Jesus. It also recounts Herod's jealousy and treachery.

A discussion of what gifts we could bring to the service of the Lord is appropriate. Also, the international aspect of the three Kings speaks to our common humanity and issues such as racism and immigration.

  1. Divine Light and Universal Attraction: This theme emphasizes the shining of God's light upon Jerusalem, symbolizing the revelation of God to the world, attracting nations and kings, and signifying the return and unification of God's people.
  2. Unity and Inclusivity in Christ: This highlights the revelation of the mystery that Jews and Gentiles are co-heirs, united in one body and sharing in the promise of Jesus Christ through the gospel, emphasizing the universal nature of God’s salvation.
  3. Guidance, Revelation, and Obedience The journey of the Magi, guided by a star to find Jesus, represents divine guidance and revelation. The Magi's obedience in following the star and their decision to return by another route, avoiding Herod, signifies the response of faith and wisdom to God's revelation.
  4. Manifestation of the Messiah to the Gentiles: The arrival of the Magi, who were Gentiles, to worship Jesus signifies the manifestation of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, to the non-Jewish world, underlining the global scope of His mission.
  5. Journey and Faithful Search The Magi's journey to find Jesus symbolizes the spiritual journey of seeking truth and the need for persistent faith and commitment in the search for divine revelation.
  6. Divine Intervention and Protection: The guidance of the Magi by a star and their divine warning in a dream highlights God's active role in guiding and protecting those who seek Him.
  7. Gift-Giving and Sacrifice: The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh brought by the Magi to Jesus symbolize the act of giving to God our best, acknowledging His sovereignty, priesthood, and the foreshadowing of His death.
  8. Light as a Symbol of Christ: The imagery of light shining upon Jerusalem is a metaphor for Christ, the Light of the World, bringing salvation and revelation to all peoples.
  9. Revelation and Response: Epiphany emphasizes the revelation of God in Christ and the appropriate human response to this revelation, as seen in the worship and gifts of the Magi and the prophetic understanding of Isaiah and Paul.

These themes collectively underscore the Epiphany’s central message: the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles and the universality of salvation. See the Homilies and Reflections section and the More Thoughts section for further expansion on these readings and some reflection questions for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord.

Resources for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

Sunday January 5, 2025

follow that star lesson plan on the epiphany
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Follow That Star Lesson Plan

This Epiphany lesson plan, centered around Matthew 2:1-12, is designed to enlighten youth on the commitment of following Jesus, emphasizing the need to surrender wholly to Him and abandon any hindrances. The journey of the Magi serves as a powerful metaphor. Despite uncertainties and challenges, the Magi remained steadfast, symbolizing the perseverance required in our spiritual journey. This story illustrates how giving our time, treasures, and selves, guided by faith, leads to a meaningful encounter with the divine. It encourages youth to view their life as a journey of faith, keeping their focus on Jesus, much like the Magi kept their eyes on the star.

birthday party for jesus
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Have a Birthday Party for Jesus

This activity is a birthday party for Jesus, suitable as a Christmas or Epiphany event, where high school students organize fun and educational activities for younger children. The party features twist on traditional birthday party games. Musical chairs with Christmas music is played, celebrating Jesus' birth. The event includes a birthday cake, and guests are encouraged to bring food pantry donations as presents.

Anselms Prayer
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St. Anselm's Prayer

This prayer, invoking the spirit of Epiphany, seeks divine guidance in understanding and aligning with God's desires. It expresses a deep yearning to know and find God, acknowledging that despite God's gifts and creation, the seeker has yet to truly understand their purpose. The prayer, attributed to St. Anselm, reflects on the human inability to seek or find God without divine intervention. It pleads for God to teach the heart to seek and find Him, emphasizing the desire to know God more deeply. The prayer connects with the Epiphany theme of seeking and discovering Christ, aspiring to bring gifts – not just physical, but of the heart and spirit – that are in harmony with God's will.

Homilies and Reflections for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

Sunday January 5, 2025

Is Science Opposed to Faith?

In his homily for the Feast of the Epiphany, Bishop Robert Barron addresses the perceived conflict between religion and science, a common reason cited by young people for leaving the Church. He argues that this view is a relatively recent phenomenon, noting that many early scientists were devoutly religious. Barron uses the story of the Magi, wise men who combined scientific inquiry with faith, to illustrate that science and faith are not mutually exclusive. Bishop Barron asserts that the Catholic tradition embraces both faith and reason, seeking understanding through both. He concludes that faith and science complement each other, with science preventing faith from becoming superstitious and faith keeping science from becoming self-referential.

The Appearance

Jeff Cavins reflects on the Feast of the Epiphany, emphasizing its meaning as a manifestation of God's love, not just to a select few, but to the entire world. He draws parallels between the Magi's journey to see Jesus, as described in Matthew's Gospel, and modern manifestations of God's presence. Using Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. as an example, Cavins illustrates how actions, like the Pope's simple yet profound gestures of love and mercy, can serve as contemporary epiphanies. He encourages believers to realize that through their actions, they too can reveal the light of Christ to others, sometimes in unexpected ways, echoing Isaiah's prophecy and the narrative of the Magi.

The Star Is a Universal Symbol of Guidance

In his Epiphany homily, Fr. Richard Rohr emphasizes the spiritual journey's progression from self-love to universal love. He underscores that inherent dignity and goodness are God-given, not earned. Rohr highlights the Epiphany's symbol, a star, representing a universal understanding of God, transcending specific religions or groups. He criticizes the notion of religion as an exclusive club and advocates for a universal message of love, as demonstrated in the readings from Isaiah, Ephesians, and Matthew. Rohr criticizes the persistence of division and racism, even in contemporary society, and urges the embrace of a universal love for all, including perceived enemies, as the true message of the Gospel.

The Magi and the Spiritual Journey

In this Epiphany homily, Bishop Robert Barron extracts five spiritual lessons from the story of the Magi in Matthew's Gospel. First, he emphasizes the importance of attentiveness in spiritual life, likening it to the Magi's contemplative stargazing. Second, he stresses the necessity of taking action once God's will is discerned. Third, Barron points out that walking the spiritual path inevitably involves facing opposition, both from the world and darker spiritual forces. Fourth, he highlights the need to offer Christ the best of ourselves, not holding back our talents or love. Finally, Barron notes that encountering Christ leads to transformation, suggesting that one cannot come to Christ and remain unchanged, symbolized by the Magi returning home by a different route.

More Thoughts for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

A Prophetic Foreshadowing

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated in the Christian tradition, is deeply enriched by the prophetic words of Isaiah in the first reading. Isaiah 60:1-6 speaks of a great light that will shine upon Jerusalem, a light that will attract nations and kings. This imagery of light and glory not only embodies the physical manifestation of God’s presence but also symbolically represents the dawning of a new era.

The passage foreshadows the coming of the Messiah, who will be a light to the nations. The gifts of gold and frankincense, mentioned in the prophecy, interestingly prefigure the gifts that the Magi will offer to Jesus. This connection between the prophecy and the event of the Epiphany bridges the Old Testament expectation with the New Testament fulfillment, indicating the universality of Jesus' mission. The reading from Isaiah sets the stage for understanding the significance of the Epiphany as not just a historical event but a divine appointment that fulfills ancient prophecies.

The Mystery Revealed to All

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of a mystery made known to him by revelation – a mystery that Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and partakers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. This reading for the Feast of the Epiphany ties beautifully with the theme of universality highlighted in Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew. It emphasizes that the salvation brought by Jesus Christ is not limited to a particular group but is available to all humanity.

This idea of inclusivity is radical, especially considering the historical context where Jewish-Gentile divisions were prominent. Paul’s message in Ephesians resonates with the Epiphany event, illustrating that the coming of Jesus marks a new covenant, where the barriers of ethnicity, culture, and race are transcended. The Epiphany thus becomes a celebration of this revelation – that in Jesus, God’s grace is extended to all peoples of the earth.

A Light to the Nations

The Gospel account of Matthew for the Feast of the Epiphany is particularly striking in its depiction of the visit of the Magi. This event is not just a narrative about wise men from the East bringing gifts to a newborn king; it is a profound theological statement about Jesus' role as the Messiah for all people. The star that guides the Magi symbolizes the divine light leading the nations to Jesus. In contrast to the powerful and paranoid King Herod, the infant Jesus embodies a different kind of kingship – one that is humble, vulnerable, and yet, paradoxically, a threat to the established political power.

Matthew’s account, unique among the Gospels, emphasizes the universal scope of Jesus' mission. While some scholars suggest that Matthew may have embellished this story to highlight Jesus' role for the Gentiles, the absence of contrary evidence gives this narrative a significant place in Christian theology. It illustrates that from the very beginning, Jesus’ life and mission were marked by miraculous signs that pointed beyond the boundaries of Israel to the wider world.

The stark contrast between Jesus and Herod in this account is also noteworthy. Herod's reaction to the news of a newborn king – a brutal decree to murder male children – starkly contrasts with the innocence and helplessness of baby Jesus. This juxtaposition sets the tone for Jesus' ministry, where he consistently challenges and redefines the concept of power and authority. The Epiphany, therefore, is not just about the revelation of Jesus to the Gentiles but also a revelation of the nature of God's kingdom – a kingdom where the last are first, the humble are exalted, and true power is found in love and vulnerability.

The Feast of the Epiphany, through its readings, invites us to reflect on the universality of Jesus’ mission and the radical nature of God’s kingdom. It calls us to recognize the light of Christ that shines for all peoples and to embrace the transformative power of this revelation in our lives and communities.

Reflection Questions for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

  • Universal Invitation: Reflect on the message of Isaiah and how it prefigures the coming of a Messiah for all nations. How does this prophecy deepen your understanding of the universal nature of Jesus' mission?
  • Personal Application of Isaiah’s Prophecy: In what ways can you see the "light" that Isaiah speaks of in your own life? How can you be a part of bringing this light to those around you?
  • Paul’s Revelation in Ephesians: Consider Paul's revelation about the Gentiles being co-heirs. How does this challenge or affirm your understanding of inclusivity within the Christian faith? Are there areas in your life or community where you can work towards greater inclusivity?
  • Contrasting Worldviews: Reflect on the contrasting images of King Herod and the infant Jesus. What does this tell you about the nature of true power and authority in the Kingdom of God? How might this influence your actions and decisions?
  • Response to the Magi's Journey: Imagine yourself as one of the Magi on the journey to see Jesus. What emotions and thoughts might you have experienced? How does their journey inspire your own spiritual journey?
  • Gifts of the Magi: Consider the significance of the gifts brought by the Magi. If you were to bring a gift to Jesus, symbolic of your talents and devotion, what would it be? Why?
  • Transformation Through Christ: The Gospel speaks of the Magi returning home by another route after encountering Jesus. How has your encounter with Christ transformed your life's path? Are there areas in your life where you feel called to change direction?
  • Reflecting Christ’s Light: In what ways can you reflect the light of Christ in your daily interactions? How can you be a beacon of hope and love in a world that often mirrors Herod's fear and aggression?
  • Embracing Vulnerability: Jesus’ vulnerability as an infant is a powerful message. How does embracing vulnerability in your own life lead to spiritual growth and a deeper connection with others?
  • Living Out the Epiphany Message: The Epiphany is a call to recognize and celebrate the revelation of Christ to all. What practical steps can you take in your community to live out this message of revelation and inclusivity?

Quotes and Social Media Graphics for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord

If you use the images below in any form, you must provide attribution to See details.

ise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you - Isaiah 60:1
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Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. - Isaiah 60:1-2
    The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star.
    Pope Benedict XVI
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The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. - Pope Benedict XVI

The Magi set out at the rising of the star. They teach us that we need to set out anew each day, in life as in faith, for faith is not a suit of armour that encases us; but a fascinating journey, constant and restless movement, ever in search of God.

Pope Francis

Like the Magi, believers are led by faith to seek God in the most hidden places, knowing that the Lord waits for them there.

Pope Francis
The Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord
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The Star of Bethlehem

Music Suggestions for the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

Sunday January 5, 2025

This selection of music for the Feast of the Epiphany beautifully captures the essence of the celebration, marking the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles as symbolized by the Magi. It includes traditional hymns that resonate with themes of divine revelation and journey, alongside contemporary pieces that echo the joy and wonder of this feast. Chosen to enhance both personal reflection and communal worship, these musical suggestions are intended to deepen appreciation of this significant day in the Christian calendar. The melodies are designed to guide listeners in celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord?

The Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day, is a Christian festival that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. It primarily commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, symbolizing Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles.

What date is the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord?

Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. The next date is Sunday January 5, 2025.

What are the Mass readings for the Feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord?

The Mass readings for Sunday January 5, 2025 are:

Who were the Magi?

The Magi, also known as the Wise Men or Three Kings, were a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They are important figures in the Christmas story.

What do the gifts of the Magi symbolize?

The gifts are rich in symbolism: gold representing Jesus' kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh prefiguring his death and embalming.

Why is the Epiphany important in the Christian tradition?

The Epiphany is significant as it represents the first revelation of Jesus as the Messiah to the Gentiles, symbolized by the Magi, and emphasizes the universal nature of Jesus’ mission.

Are there any special traditions or customs associated with the Epiphany?

Yes, traditions vary by culture but often include blessing homes, chalking the door, and sharing a King’s Cake or Three Kings’ Cake.

How is the Feast of the Epiphany related to Christmas?

The Epiphany is an extension of the Christmas season, focusing on the manifestation of Christ to the world, while Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ.

What is the spiritual significance of the star the Magi followed?

The star symbolizes the divine guidance that leads believers to Jesus Christ. It represents the light of God leading the Gentiles to the newborn Messiah.

What is the main theme of Isaiah 60:1-6 for the Feast of the Epiphany?

The first reading emphasizes the theme of divine light and glory shining upon Jerusalem, attracting nations and kings. It symbolizes the revelation of God to all peoples and reflects the universal reach of God's salvation, a key theme of Epiphany.

How does the First Reading from Isaiah connect with the Gospel account of the Magi?

Isaiah's prophecy of nations and kings being drawn to the light of Jerusalem prefigures the journey of the Magi, who were likely foreign dignitaries, to Jesus. This connection highlights the fulfillment of prophecy and the universal scope of Jesus' mission in the Epiphany narrative.

How does the reading from Ephesians relate to the Feast of the Epiphany?

Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6 discusses the revelation of a mystery that Gentiles are co-heirs with Jews. This reflects Epiphany's theme of inclusivity and the extension of God's promise to all humanity through Jesus Christ, not limited by ethnic or cultural boundaries.

What significance does the Gospel of Matthew hold for the Feast of the Epiphany?

Matthew 2:1-12 narrates the visit of the Magi to Jesus. This event is central to the Feast of Epiphany as it symbolizes the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and underscores the idea of Jesus as a universal Messiah.

How does Herod's response to the Magi's visit enhance the Epiphany narrative?

King Herod's troubled reaction and deceitful intentions contrast with the Magi's faithful journey, highlighting the theme of opposition to God's revelation. This element adds depth to the Epiphany story, showing that Jesus' arrival challenges earthly powers and mindsets.

What is the significance of the Magi returning home by another route?

The Magi's return by another route, after being divinely warned in a dream to avoid Herod, symbolizes the transformative impact of encountering Christ. It suggests that those who truly encounter Jesus are changed, a theme echoing the transformative nature of Epiphany.

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