Epiphany In the Western churches, the Epiphany ('manifestation') became an occasion to celebrate one element in the story of Christ's birth, the visit of the far-travelled magi, understood as the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Matthew's account speaks simply of 'wise men from the east'; later tradition fixed their number at three, made them kings and recalled their resonant names — Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
In this perspective, Epiphany tide is an apt season to pray for the worldwide mission of the Church.The feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, appropriately falls in the Epiphany season, as does the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In the Eastern churches, the Epiphany is, rather, the celebration of Christ's baptism at the hands of John, when the heavens were opened and a voice from heaven declared Jesus to be God's beloved Son.The miracle of Cana in Galilee, where Jesus 'first manifested his glory', follows immediately:
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All creation blesses you, O Lord. Exiles offer you worship. Pilgrims hallow your name. Saints adore you. Humanity offers its praise. And we your servants lift our hearts and voices to you in joy and thanksgiving. Amen.Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582)
God who reaches out to us in love, cascading grace to all creation, may we be disciples who respond to your overwhelming, unconditional, unbounded presence.
May we each respond to your invitation to share in your mission with all our heart, will, mind and strength.
May we respond to your Spirit who calls us to reimagine our communities in the light of your grace.
And may the gospel enliven our spirits to see possibilities, to grasp opportunities and to travel in the way of Jesus.
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.' (v. 17)