Tag Archives: Epiphany

Blessed Epiphany

epiphany2In honor of the day, one a  favorite poem: ‘The Journey Of The Magi’ by T. S. Eliot.

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Epiphany

EpiphanyIn the traditional form of our faith the Church celebrates the Epiphany on January 6th. The homage paid to the Holy Infant demonstrates that unbelievers, reading the signs given by God, point directly to Jesus as God-man, the promised Messiah, the King of Kings.

In a sermon Pope Saint Leo the Great taught:

“This is the day that David prophesied in the psalms, when he said: All the nations that you have brought into being will come and fall down in adoration in your presence, Lord, and glorify your name. Again, the Lord has made known his salvation; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

“This came to be fulfilled, as we know, from the time when the star beckoned the three wise men out of their distant country and led them to recognise and adore the King of heaven and earth. The obedience of the star calls us to imitate its humble service: to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all men to find Christ.”

Saint Bonaventure reflects: “At the time of the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem of Judea, a star appeared to the Magi in the East, and its guiding light showed them the way to the humble King’s abode. Do not you yourself turn away from the brightness of this orient star that shows you the way, but rather, joining the holy kings, accept the testimony of the Jewish Scriptures concerning Christ and defeat Herod’s malice. With gold, frankincense, and myrrh, pay homage to Christ the King, truly God and truly human. In company with the first fruits of the Gentiles called to faith, adore, confess, and praise this humble God, who lies in a crib, and then, warned in a dream not to imitate Herod’s pride, return to your land in the footsteps of the humble Christ” (The Tree of Life, 6).

The image is a portion of a fresco, attributed to Giotto, c. 1315-20,  in the lower basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi.