THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Epiphany of Our Lord

6 January 2008

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Dear Friends,

Today we celebrate three separate occasions in the life of Christ. The breviary for today has these words: "We celebrate a day glorified by three miracles. On this day a star led the Wise Men to the crib; at the marriage in Cana of Galilee water was changed into wine; and on this day Christ willed to be baptized by John in the Jordan, in order to redeem us."

In each of these three events we see God manifesting Himself to all people, both the Judeans and the Gentiles. These events are manifestations (or Epiphanies) of the divinity of Christ.

On these three occasions we see Christ presented to us as: King, High Priest, and as Prophet.

The Wise men saw the star and were seeking the King from Heaven. And Jesus declared Himself this King for when Pilate asked him: "Art thou the king of the Judeans?" He answered: "Thou sayest it."

Jesus presents Himself to us as a High Priest when He first manifested His glorious divine power at the wedding feast of Cana. Here He changed water into wine. In doing this He foreshadowed the holy sacrifice on our altars, where He changes bread and wine into His Body and Blood, thus manifesting Himself as "High Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech."

Finally, Jesus Christ is a prophet or teacher; for He has taught us, and continues to teach us through His holy Catholic Church what we must believe, hope for and do, in order to sanctify ourselves and be saved. He first appears as a prophet at His baptism, for the Holy Ghost descended upon Him, bearing testimony to the spirit of truth abiding in Him, and the Father testified that Christ was His beloved Son, whom mankind should hear.

This feast is for us to remember our vocation to the Christian Faith. It is a day of thanksgiving for us. Of the many millions of inhabitants on the globe the majority is in the darkness of idolatry or heresy, and will be eternally lost, excepting those who perhaps on account of their good intention and disposition will be saved in an extraordinary way. Most of us were called by God from our infancy to walk in the light of faith. We are members of the one saving Church established by Jesus Christ. Is not this a grace for which we can never sufficiently thank God throughout all eternity? After St. Augustine had been rescued from the darkness of unbelief and received into the bosom of the Catholic Church, he thanked God daily for this grace in the following words: "Truly, Lord, Thou art my God who has led me out of the darkness and the shadow of death, and called me to Thy wonderful light . . . Too late have I known Thee, Thou, my true light, ah, too late have I known Thee; nevertheless, I give Thee thanks for having enlightened me." We must also be thankful to God for having called us to the Catholic Church. Let us esteem and love the Catholic faith above all things and not permit anything in the world to cause us to waver. Let us make frequent acts of faith, protesting before heaven and earth that we firmly believe all that the Church proposes to our belief, and resolve to live and die in this faith.

The three miracles of today's feast also remind us of our threefold duty to the threefold dignity of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is our King therefore we owe Him obedience, not only to Him directly but also to those whom He has placed over us in the Faith _ His bishops and priests. "If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican." (Matt. 18:17) On our death beds we will not regret having always obeyed our pastors in all things relating to the salvation of our souls.

Jesus is our High Priest. He has redeemed us and deposited in His Church all the means of grace which are necessary for our purification and sanctification. These means of grace are especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments.

Lastly Jesus is the Prophet or Teacher who has taught us by word and example what we must believe and do in order to please God and to attain our eternal destiny.

We now know the significance of the Epiphany both as regards the feast and ourselves. Let us follow our Father's star (the dictates of our conscience) which will guide us on the right path to the eternal Jerusalem. Let us adore the Son under the humble form of bread in the most holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Let us follow the inspirations of the Holy Ghost by believing the revealed truths as proposed by the Church, who is guided and vivified by the Holy Spirit, and by not preventing Him from conforming our souls to that of Jesus Christ.

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