Goffine’s Devout Instructions – Epiphany

illustration of Epiphany from Goffine's Devout InstructionsWhat mystery does the Church celebrate today?

She celebrates today a threefold mystery:

1. The arrival in Bethlehem of the Wise Men from the East to adore the new-born Saviour;

2. The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan;

3. The first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana.

Why is this festival called Epiphany, or the manifestation?

Because in the three events just mentioned Jesus manifested Himself not only to the Jews, but also to the gentiles, as the expected Messias, the Redeemer of the world, and the beloved of His heavenly Father.

The Church sings today with joy at the Introit, Behold the Lord, the Kuler, is come, and a kingdom in his hand, and power and dominion” (Malachi 3:1). “Give to the king Your judgment, O God, and to the king’s son Your justice” (Psalm 71:2).

Prayer

O God, Who did on this day reveal Your only-begotten Son to the gentiles by the guidance of a star, grant in Your mercy that we, who know You now by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of Your majesty. Through the same Lord, etc.

Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee: and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee: thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side. Then shalt thou see and abound, and thy heart shall wonder and be enlarged, when the multitude of the sea shall be converted to thee, the strength of the gentiles shall come to thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Madian and Epha: all they from Saba shall come, bringing gold and frankincense, and showing forth praise to the Lord.

Of what does the prophet here speak?

He foretells the future manifestation of the light of the Lord Jesus to Jerusalem, which was a type of the Church, and that by that light the gentiles should enter into the one Church of Christ.

Prayer

Give praise, O you heavens, and rejoice, O earth; you mountains, give praise with jubilation, because the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His poor ones.” (Isaiah 49:13)

Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus, therefore, was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of King Herod, behold, there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, saying: Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and are come to adore Him. And King Herod hearing this, was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. But they said to him. In Bethlehem of Juda: for so it is written by the prophet: And thou Bethlehem, the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come forth the Captain that shall rule My people Israel. Then Herod, privately calling the Wise Men, learned diligently of them the time of the star which appeared to them: and sending them into Bethlehem, said: Go and diligently inquire after the child: and when you have found Him, bring me word again, that I also may come and adore Him. Who having heard the king, went their way: and behold, the star which they had seen in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was. And seeing the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And entering into the house, they found the child with Mary, His Mother, and falling down, they adored Him: and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having received an answer in sleep that they should not return to Herod, they went back another way into their country.

Why did the Wise Men come from afar to seek the Saviour in Jerusalem?

They lived in Arabia, and had acquired some information of the prophecies of Israel, particularly of the noted prophecy of Balaam, A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel” (Numbers 24:17), which was the more significant to them because they were, as their name denotes, skilled in astronomy. But to these human considerations must be added the light of divine inspiration, as Saint Leo says, The star shone also in their hearts” — a beautiful example for us to follow, without delay, the inspirations of divine grace, and to do the will of God without fear of men.

What was the significance of the presents which the Wise Men offered to the Saviour?

In offering gold the Wise Men honored the infant Jesus as King; in frankincense, as God; in myrrh, as suffering Man.

How can we offer to Jesus similar gifts?

We can present Him with gold by giving up to Him what we value most, our will; also by giving alms in His name to the poor. We can present Him incense in fervent and devout prayers ascending to heaven; and myrrh, by preserving purity of body and soul.

Prayer

Give to me, O my divine Saviour, the faith of these Wise Men; enlighten my understanding with the light which enlightened them; but move my heart also, that I may follow that light, and sincerely seek Thee, and You only. Who didst first seek me. Grant that I may find and adore Thee, with the Wise Men, in spirit and in truth, offering to Thee, like them, gold in my obedience and alms, incense in my prayers, myrrh in my penances and mortifications, that, after having brought You the offerings of my faith on earth, I may adore You in Your eternal glory. Amen.