This weekend we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. a word which means “Appearing” or “Manifestation”. We often talk about having an “epiphany” moment, when something suddenly becomes clear to us as never before. The feast of the Epiphany, or “Manifestation” of Jesus to the visiting pagan Magi (a term which means astrologers) also “manifests” a truth, hitherto kept secret by God: “that is, the Gentiles (pagans) have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (from the second reading for this weekend) . Not only is it just the Jewish people who are part of God’s plan of salvation. That plan also now includes we who were “pagan” before our baptism into Jesus.
There are many practical ways in which the Feast of the Epiphany makes its point. It teaches us that in Christ there is no room for religious elitism. It may sound like a time-worn truth , but it still bears repeating: in God’s eyes all are equal. And we are not free to build roadblocks of any type. In the early church, this meant not only common worship attended by all but a common table as well. We do well to ask if we are carrying within ourselves any prejudices, conscious or otherwise, against certain types of people. This is not a textbook issue. It passes quickly from theory to practice. If we are to avoid further volatile civil situations, explosions of violence, or increased polarization, then Christians have to live according to the mind and heart of God, as “manifested” by Jesus, in his birth, life, death and resurrection. Jesus came to take away the sins of the world, not of just a certain segment of it.
Today’s epistle from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians says that we are all co-heirs, co-members, and co-partners. We are called to a classless society in a Christian sense. Each Epiphany reminds us that we still have a way to go.