Epiphany of the Lord

Epiphany is one of the oldest feasts celebrated in the Catholic Church. The word Epiphany is Greek for manifestation or revelation. During the first centuries of the Catholic church, everyone celebrated the Epiphany on the same day.

Epiphany has also been called the feast of the Three Wise men. It was called this because the Gospel said the Magi came from the East to Jerusalem asking for the newborn King of the Jews. They had seen the star when it rose and wanted to honor Him. It is believed they may have come from Arabia, Chaldea or Persia, which is now called Iran. Tradition says there were three, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

When the mysterious star appeared, these wise and educated men recognized it as a sign of Messiah. They knew he would be born in Judea. They followed the star to Bethlehem. They found the child with Mary, His mother. They honored Jesus. They gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold was a symbol of kingship, frankincense a symbol of deity, and myrrh which is an embalming oil, used as a sign of death.

The Holy Name of Jesus

For centuries, people have used the Holy Name of Jesus and believe there is power in His name.  In Luke 1, Gabriel the angel tells Mary she will conceive, bear a son, and will name him Jesus.  In Matthew 1, an angel visits Joseph in a dream and tells him, his name is Jesus, and he will save his people. Matthew then specifically mentions the prophecy of Isaiah 7, the virgin will bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.  The name Emmanuel appears in Matthew 1 when he connects Jesus to the Old Testament prophecy. The name Emmanuel does not appear again in the New Testament. 

The holiness of the name of Jesus is explained by Saint Paul when he says at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.  He goes on to say those who call on the name of Jesus will be saved. 

John says using the power of the name of Jesus in petition, if you ask the Father for anything in my name He will give it to you.  This is why many prayers end in Jesus’ name.  There are many miracles throughout the New Testament which

In medieval England, devotion to the holiness of Jesus’ name was encouraged first by Anselm of Canterbury and shortly after veneration was promoted by Bernard of Clairvaux.

Candlemas-Presentation of the Lord

This feast day is also known as Candlemas and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin.  It was called Candlemas because a priest blessed beeswax candles for use through the year. It is called Presentation of Jesus at the Temple because it is the day Mary and Joseph took forty-day old Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary was considered unclean for 40 days after having a baby. This was a law of the Torah.  Mary and Joseph were poor so they couldn’t afford to pay for a lamb.  Instead, they sacrificed a pair of turtledoves or pigeons.  When they took Jesus to the Temple, they met Simeon.

God has promised Simeon he wouldn’t die before getting to see the Messiah.  After seeing Jesus Simeon said he could die in peace. Anna was an eighty-four-year-old widow.  She never left the temple.  She spent her time worshiping in prayer and fasting.  

With Anna present, Simeon purified Mary with prayer. Simeon and Anna were older people who were so dedicated to prayer they were able to recognize baby Jesus as the Messiah.  Mary and Joseph were amazed at what Simeon said about baby Jesus. Simeon said the child would be the rise and fall of many in Israel and a sword would pierce Mary’s heart.