The long holiday season ends on today. The Christmas Season ends with the observance of the Feast of the Three Kings or The Epiphany. 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. Today is known in some countries as the Day of the Kings (El Dia de los Reyes) and the Feast of Light.
Liturgically, however, the joyous season officially ends next Sunday, January 10, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Scripture says the following:
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
The living example of worshipping God was 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.
– Gold is charity. In Christian theology charity, Latin caritas, is by Thomas Aquinas understood as “the friendship of man for God”, which “unites us to God”. He holds it as “the most excellent of the virtues.Charity is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God.
– Frankincense is the perfume of our prayers. Our prayers are the personal offerings of worship and excited expressions of praise.
– Myrrh is our sufferings that we bring to the cross. Suffering is somewhat mysterious.It has as its chief purpose the formation of Christ-like character . Trials simply give us the capacity to cooperate with the process. They allow the process to work and allow us to experience inner peace and joy in the midst of the trials.In order to handle suffering with inner joy and tranquility, we must be able to look ahead to God’s purposes and reasons for suffering.
As is with all scripture it is true of today, tomorrow and yesterday.