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Notices

FINAL INSTALMENT: THE FEASTS OF CHRISTMAS

Epiphany The second great feast of the Christmas season that amplifies our awareness of the person of Jesus is the Western church’s separate celebration of the ancient Eastern feast of the Epiphany. While the Eastern church concentrates on the baptism of Jesus as the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity, the Western church continues to maintain the story of the Magi. These foreign kings, themselves altered by strange manifestations of the stars in the heavens, like the shepherds, find their way to the child and, the scriptures say, “to pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:2) The world recognises the heavenly in this tiny child. And the child recognises the people of God in them. This is not a Christian child only; this child belongs to the world. The Baptism of Jesus The Christmas season ends in the West with its own celebration of the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan. As the Eastern church points out, it is at this moment that we see for the first time the union of God the Creator, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But we see something else as well. We see Jesus accepting baptism by John, a sign that Jesus accepts humanity. His own and ours, in all of its struggles, all of its limitations, all of its burdens, and all its focus on the ultimate, on the divine. The feast days of Christmastide make the full meaning of Christmas clear. There can be no doubt about it: this child is human, yes, but he is of heavenly as well as earthly origin. In this child’s light we all walk safely through the unknown. We are all here with the Magi, full of gifts to give on his behalf. What’s more, with the opening of the heavens on the bank of the Jordan, we all have our first vision of life beyond life. Christmas is larger than a baby in a manger. Christmas is the coming of a whole new world. More than that, it is what makes that world possible. (Source: The Liturgical Year-The Fullness of Time-Joan Chittister)

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