Rev. Charles Hoffacker
Today is the Epiphany, which the Book of Common Prayer (page 15) identifies as one of the seven principal feasts of our Church.
“Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning manifestation, and Jesus Christ is the one manifest. At his Nativity (December 25), Jesus is manifested to the Jewish people, represented by those in the Bethlehem stable, including the shepherds directed there by an angel who appears to them in the night sky (Luke 2:8-16).
At the Epiphany (January 6), Jesus is manifested to Gentiles, represented by magi, proto-scientists perhaps, who are led westward by an extraordinary star and bring him strange gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh
Matthew’s Gospel mentions three gifts, but does not say how many gift-givers there were. Some old Christian traditions identify more than three magi, complete with their names. Everybody in the New Testament world was either a Jew or a Gentile.
Christmas and Epiphany thus testify that Jesus was manifest for everybody. To emphasize this point, Christian art sometimes presents the magi as people of diverse ethnicities.
Meditating on the Epiphany can strengthen our commitment to being anti-racist people.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington