The Church season of Epiphany starts on the day of the Epiphany, January 6, and runs for 8 Sundays, ending with the feast of the Transfiguration. Epiphany means manifestation, or making something apparent. The theme for Epiphany is Light. Light is that by which things are made visible. Light makes us able to see and it determines what we see.
Throughout the Bible God’s people claim that God is the source of light and even that God is the Light itself, not literally but metaphorically. The meaning is this: as with light, how things are with God determines how we experience things. God illumines; God shines and then reality and truth can be seen according to how God’s light shines on it. If God does not illumine and shine truth is never seen. And any truth that is seen is only seen because God shines and illumines it. Without God there is only blindness and darkness. That is why the Psalmist prays, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and guide to my path.” In other words, I am lost in darkness and cannot see any true path without You, God, actively shining for me so I can see how to walk and live in an authentic way that is in harmony with reality.
The day of Epiphany celebrates the magi being led and drawn by a light, a divine star, to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The magi are those who neither know nor care about Israel’s God. Their attention is captured by the things of nature, which they study. But those things of nature lead them to the baby Jesus and there they find the truth for which they had been searching. Their search culminates in coming to Israel’s Messiah and offering to him their allegiance.
For Christians this is a momentous event because, now, both God’s people (the Jews) and those who were not God’s people (the Gentiles, the magi) are drawn to the Light of the world, namely, God made human in the Jewish baby, Jesus Christ. It is a great Epiphany, a great “making-seen-event”, that in Jesus, God is the Light of the world by which not only the Jewish people can seek and find the deepest truth, but so can the rest of the world.
The 2014 season of Epiphany focuses our attention on Jesus’ calling of his first disciples and then on his profound teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. His simple but profound teaching shines light, showing us many things we wish would stay hidden, but also showing us divine love, forgiveness and acceptance beyond our imagining. The Light shines in the darkness.