Celebrating the manifestations of God

  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/captcha/captcha.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::element_type() should be compatible with views_handler_field::element_type($none_supported = false, $default_empty = false, $inline = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::query() should be compatible with views_handler::query($group_by = false) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_query::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_query.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 0.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 1113.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/captcha/captcha.inc on line 61.
  • strict warning: Only variables should be passed by reference in /home/abounaor/public_html/english/sites/all/modules/captcha/captcha.inc on line 61.

Celebrating the manifestations of God

By Céline Hoyeau/ la-croix.com

Christian tradition has given many interpretations to the adoration of Jesus by the Wise Men from the East, celebrated on Jan. 6.

What does the word “epiphany” mean? Before it became associated with the festival of the Kings’ Cake, the word had a much broader meaning. Derived from the Greek “epiphaneia” (manifestation), it designates the manifestations of God to man or “theophanies.”

Several are found in the Old Testament. As early as in Genesis (18, 1-15), “Jehovah appears” to Abraham in the form of three mysterious visitors. Jacob fights with the Angel of God during the night before receiving His blessing in the morning. (Genesis 32)

Moses experienced two epiphanies: at the burning bush (Exodus 3) and then on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32-34) when God gave him the Tables of the Law. Elijah heard God speaking to him on Mount Horeb in “a light murmuring sound” (1 Kings 19) while it is “from the heart of the tempest” (Job 38, 1) that He addressed Job.

Many prophets, too, had divine visions, including Isaiah who, in the temple of Jerusalem, “saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne.” (Isaiah 6, 1-2)

In the Old Testament, God reveals Himself to men, but later it is in Jesus, His Son, that he makes Himself seen, no longer through angels or signs but by taking on a human condition. This is what was originally celebrated by the Festival of the Epiphany, which started in the Orient in the sixth century: God manifesting Himself to all Humanity, represented by the Wise Men who came from the end of the world.

To express it, the evangelist Matthew (Matthew 2,1-12) “drew on many texts of the Old Testament, which he updated” according to the literary genre of the midrash, notes the exegete Jesus Asurmendi, director of the Center for the Intelligence of the Faith. These include the Book of Isaiah, in particular, according to which “everyone in Saba will come, bringing gold and incense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Isaiah 60, 1-6). Another such text, he explains, is the Book of Numbers, in which a pagan, Balaam, prophesizes that “a star is emerging from Jacob, a scepter is rising from Israel.”

Additionally, the title of “King of the Jews,” as the Wise Men designate the newborn babe, reappears in the mouth of Pilate at the trial of Jesus. “The manifestation of Jesus to the Wise Men is thus the beginning and the germ of the plenary manifestation that will unfold in the death and resurrection of Christ,” Father Gabriel, a monk of Citeaux, emphasizes in a homily.
What is celebrated at Epiphany?

In the first centuries, the Christians celebrated on Jan. 6, the approximate date of the winter solstice, the first “manifestations” of the divinity of Jesus: the Nativity, the adoration of the Wise Men, the baptism in the River Jordan and the Wedding at Cana (the first miracle, a sign of the power of God). This “synthetic” festival still exists in the Armenian Church.

Elsewhere, Jan. 6 was disassociated from Dec. 25, the more precise date of the solstice, so Catholics celebrate the Nativity on Dec. 25, the adoration of the Wise Men on Jan. 6, the baptism of Christ on the following Sunday, and the Wedding at Cana on the Sunday after that.

Western liturgy has, however, kept the memory of the unity of these events in the antiphon of the vespers of the Epiphany. “We are celebrating three mysteries on this day,” it says. “Today the star has led the Wise Men to the manger; today water was changed into wine at the Wedding at Cana; today Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan to save us. Hallelujah.”

“Surprisingly, the West has retained the word ‘epiphany’ for the adoration of the Wise Men, whereas the manifestation of the divine origin of Jesus is more evident at his baptism in the Jordan, when the voice of the Father rang out, ‘This is my beloved son’,” notes Quebec Dominican Yvon Pomerleau.

In the West, the adoration of the Wise Men has, in fact, taken on a considerable scale, enriched by many elements of folklore over the centuries. The Gospel gives very few details on them, but the Apocrypha and Tradition have filled these silences.

In the East, however, churches still insist on the baptism of Jesus and the manifestation of the Trinity God during the Epiphany. This explains why, for a long time, catechumens were baptized on the eve of this festival, Olivier Clément recalls.

To this day, “in the East, a procession goes to the closest river, breaking its ice if necessary, or to the sea, and the priest throws a cross that brave boys plunge in to recover! But the baptismal meaning is lost: holy water is drunk or carefully kept for the purification of the soul and the body, the sanctification of the home and any good use.”
What meaning does the festival have?

Christian tradition has interpreted this evangelical episode in a great many ways. The cycles of frescos devoted to the Wise Men in Bologna and Florence give an idea of this wealth of meanings, according to Father Pomerleau, who has collected hundreds of representations of the Wise Men.

“Each painting portrays a dimension of the Christian journey,” he explains. “The observation of the stars speaks to us of the quest for meaning; the cavalcade of the Wise Men tells us of the journey, the engaging in Christian life following Jesus; the meeting with Herod speaks to the two models of royalty and the temptation that threatens every Christian in the face of power. The consultation of wise and learned men stresses the importance of the Scriptures in the spiritual quest; the adoration of the Wise Men that of contemplation. The return by boat indicates that meeting with God brings about a change of path, a conversion that is always necessary.”

The adoration of Jesus by the Wise Men “from the East” fundamentally underlines the universality of Christ’s message and the salvation it brings.

“When Matthew wrote his Gospel towards the end of the first century, many believers who had been pagans went to ask for baptism to become disciples of Christ,” says Father Jean-Luc Garin. “The steps followed by the Wise Men seem to sum up the path of the faith of these new believers.”

“Forerunners of the seekers of God of all generations,” they invite us to be “attentive to the humble, discreet epiphanies of God in our lives,” he points out.

Today, adds Father Asurmendi, this text is also a confirmation that the Christian faith is structurally open to others. “The shepherds, then looked upon as thieves, and the Wise Men, foreigners, were the first to welcome Jesus, symbolizing the reversal in values that Christ brought about.”

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 09:34
Comment through the site Comment through facebook

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.