Time after Epiphany
On the day of Epiphany (from the Greek επιφάνεια meaning “manifestation” or “appearance”), January 6, the church celebrates the revelation of Christ to all nations as represented by the magi who come to worship Jesus. The church calendar recognizes the season of Epiphany from January 6 until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday which is celebrated as the Transfiguration of our Lord. The length of the season of Epiphany varies and is determined by working backwards through the season of Lent from the moveable date for the celebration of Easter.
- The revelation of Christ to all nations
- Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan
- Christ as the light of the world
- The public ministry of Jesus Christ, including Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana
- Growth in a Christian’s baptized identity
Color of the Season
- White, a color associated with the festivals of Christ and suggesting gladness, joy and light for the day of Epiphany, the first week after the Epiphany when the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated, and the last week of the season of Epiphany when the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated.Green, the color used for times when festival or penitential colors are not appropriate. Green is reminiscent of living plants and suggests spiritual growth.
- Green is used in the season of Epiphany beginning with the second week after the Epiphany until the week before the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated.
The Wise Men or Maji
The Magi were members of the religious hierarchy of ancient Persia and Media (the region corresponding to modern Iran). They were scholars and practitioners of astrology, divination, and the interpretation of dreams. Their expertise in these arcane subjects is the reason they were often referred to as “wise men.” The Magi of Babylonia undoubtedly came into contact with exiled Jewish priests living among them. Through these acquaintances the Magi learned of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, including the cryptic “messianic star” passage of Numbers 24:17. This explains why the astral phenomenon described in Matthew 2:1-12 so fascinated the wise men of the gospel narrative.
Many pious legends about the wise men have arisen over the centuries. In the western Christian churches, these include the traditions that there were three Magi who visited Jesus, that their names were Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, and that they were kings.