January 06, 2008

The Church commemorates three epiphanies on Epiphany...

... one epiphany to the PAGANS, the magi, in Bethelehem...

... a second epiphany to the JEWISH PEOPLE OF GOD at Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River...

... and a third epiphany to the first CHRISTIANS at the wedding feast in Cana.


The Church’s ancient hymn for Vespers (Evening Prayer) on Epiphany mentions all three epiphanies.
The Magi, following as guide
The star that goes before,
By light they seek the Light, and God
With mystic gifts adore.

The Lamb of heaven steps into
The limpid, cleansing flood,
By washing us he takes away
Our sins in bath of Blood.

A novel kind of force is seen:
The water blushes red,
And what the waiters pour from jars
Is luscious wine instead

Furthermore, just before and after praying the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Vespers on Epiphany, the Church invokes again the same three epiphanies.
We keep holy this day adorned with three miracles:
today a star led the Wise Men to the manger;
today wine was made from water at the wedding feast;
today Christ chose to be baptized by John in the Jordan that he might save us,
alleluia.

After Epiphany the Church extends its celebration of the three epiphanies by observing the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (usually on the Sunday after Epiphany) and, on the Sunday after that, the Gospel of the Cana Wedding Feast (formerly every year, but now only in Cycle A of the Sunday Readings).



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