By Christina Hermoso
A Catholic Church leader calls on the faithful “to follow the example of the Three Kings as a way to Jesus Christ” as the Church observes today the Feast of the Epiphany marking the end of the long Christmas season in the country.
Liturgically, however, the joyous season will officially end tomorrow, January 7, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
“Epiphany means God’s revelations, His manifestations. He sent the Three Kings for us to know Him and to meet Him,” said Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos. “All of us can come to Him without any exception, anytime and anywhere. We can be guided by the example of the Three Wise Men,” he said.
“First, like the Three Kings, we have to move out from our security blanket, go out of our comfort zone. Take the courage to follow and fulfill what He is asking from us. So we must do the necessary efforts to turn away from the cravings of the flesh, set aside our whims and personal interest then take His words and do His works just like the Three Kings who took time, made sacrifices, and took risks to journey to God,” Santos said.
“Second, we must be willing to give up our valuables for the love of God. We must give up something for Him. Let us give up hurting others. Speak what is true, just and moral. The Three Kings offered to Jesus what was best and precious from their possessions. Thus let us offer to God good deeds and good manners, not the threats of guns, goons and gold. Let our presents to God come from honest living and hard work. Let us be pleasing and praiseworthy, no blood in our hands and no skeletons in the closet,” the bishop said.
Meanwhile, the Holy Father Pope Francis traditionally celebrates a mass in honor of the feast at 10 a.m. at the St. Peter’s Basilica.
Also known as the Epiphany or Theophany, meaning “vision of God,” the feast commemorates the manifestation of the Infant Jesus to the Three Wise Men from the East: Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar.
Celebrated in some countries as the Day of the Kings (El Dia de los Reyes) and the Feast of Light, priests in white vestments will focus their reflections on the events narrating the arrival of the Three Wise Men from the East in Jerusalem to pay homage to the Infant Jesus. Warned by an angel in a dream not to tell King Herod of the whereabouts of the Infant Jesus, they took a different path on their return to avoid Herod who wanted to get rid of the newborn child whom he thought was a threat to his throne.
In Eucharistic celebrations today, readings will highlight the spiritual significance of the first manifestation of Jesus to the human race as well as of the symbolic meaning of the gifts of the Magi: Gold, the royal metal, which signified that Jesus is King; frankincense, the symbol of prayer, which signified that Jesus is the Son of God; and myrrh, which is used to anoint the dead, which signified that Jesus has to die for the salvation of the human race.
Old traditions associated with the feast include leaving shoes by the doorstep so the kings can leave behind gifts like candies or money. In some areas like in the city of Manila, three men dressed as the Three Kings ride around on horseback distributing candies to children.
From the Greek word “epiphaneia,” which means manifestation, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the “shining forth” or revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus. The feast originated in the Eastern Christian Churches and was originally a general celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus.
The Church said that while “Christmas is considered the family feast of Christianity, the Epiphany is the world feast of the Catholic Church, the feast of Christ’s divinity.”