Epiphany Sunday, or little Christmas, as it used to be called because presents were traditionally given on this day, was always celebrated on January 6th until the date was changed in 1970 to fall on the Sunday following January 1st. This year Catholics in the United States have the joy of celebrating the Epiphany of Our Lord on January 6th, the traditional date, since it actually falls on a Sunday.
Epiphany is from the Greek meaning manifestation. Today's feast brings the Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem with gifts for the Newborn King . The Gospel reads:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Mt 2: 10-11)
This particular feast reminds us that Jesus was sent to be present and to save all men. The Incarnation of Our Lord reaches to the ends of the earth and brings all humanity together. The Magi were from Persia, and followed the star to find the child that they believed to be God. They brought Jesus gifts; these gifts were symbolic.
Frankincense is incense made of resin representing our prayers rising up to heaven in recognition that Jesus is God and deserves our worship.
Myrrh is also a resin that was used as a fragrant perfume, often for embalming. This gift was symbolic of the suffering that Jesus would endure in his Passion.
Christians throughout the world today will be celebrating the visit of the wise men to worship the Newborn King. Will you?