I don’t know about you, but I always experience a Christmas hangover. As soon as the presents are all opened and I survey the Christmas debris scattered across the living room, it hits me: It’s over. All of the buildup and anticipation is finished.
So now what?
Perhaps you experience something similar. And for me, this feeling follows me until the new year comes and the kids go back to school. Routine returns and we’re back to normal life. It can be both welcome and deflating.
And onto this stage Epiphany steps. Also known as “Three Kings Day”, it is celebrated each year on January 6th, the 12th day after Christmas. Epiphany has several meanings, but is a day (and season) when we focus on the humanity of Christ.
My favorite meaning of epiphany is a “striking realization.” Because that is literally what I am searching for during this time of year – something to shock me out of the doldrums and wake me up to the beautiful reality around me. While it’s normally lost on me because I have become numb to it, this truth is still striking:
God became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
And so this season we begin to ponder what this glorious truth means. Today begin with the beautiful poetry of the opening of John’s gospel. Hear the astounding promises of God through prophet Jeremiah. Praise God with the psalmist. Marvel at the mystery of God’s plan with Paul in Ephesians.
Let us all wake up today to the still-striking realization that the creator of the universe came to Earth as an actual human and walked among us. And may it make everything we see and touch and do this week more meaningful. Because Christ still lives among us.
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel.
You will again be happy
and dance merrily with your tambourines.
Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria
and eat from your own gardens there.
The day will come when watchmen will shout
from the hill country of Ephraim,
‘Come, let us go up to Jerusalem
to worship the Lord our God.’”
Now this is what the Lord says:
“Sing with joy for Israel.
Shout for the greatest of nations!
Shout out with praise and joy:
‘Save your people, O Lord,
the remnant of Israel!’
For I will bring them from the north
and from the distant corners of the earth.
I will not forget the blind and lame,
the expectant mothers and women in labor.
A great company will return!
Tears of joy will stream down their faces,
and I will lead them home with great care.
They will walk beside quiet streams
and on smooth paths where they will not stumble.
For I am Israel’s father,
and Ephraim is my oldest child.
“Listen to this message from the Lord,
you nations of the world;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
The Lord, who scattered his people,
will gather them and watch over them
as a shepherd does his flock.
For the Lord has redeemed Israel
from those too strong for them.
They will come home and sing songs of joy on the heights of Jerusalem.
They will be radiant because of the Lord’s good gifts—
the abundant crops of grain, new wine, and olive oil,
and the healthy flocks and herds.
Their life will be like a watered garden,
and all their sorrows will be gone.
The young women will dance for joy,
and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration.
I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.
The priests will enjoy abundance,
and my people will feast on my good gifts.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates
and blessed your children within your walls.
He sends peace across your nation
and satisfies your hunger with the finest wheat.
He sends his orders to the world—
how swiftly his word flies!
He sends the snow like white wool;
he scatters frost upon the ground like ashes.
He hurls the hail like stones.
Who can stand against his freezing cold?
Then, at his command, it all melts.
He sends his winds, and the ice thaws.
He has revealed his words to Jacob,
his decrees and regulations to Israel.
He has not done this for any other nation;
they do not know his regulations.
Praise the Lord!
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.
God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Father of light,
today you reveal to men of faith
the resplendent fact of the Word made flesh.
Your light is strong,
Your love is near;
draw us beyond the limits
which this world imposes,
to the life where Your Spirit
makes all life complete.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
New Saint Joseph Sunday Missal