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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017 Traditional Feast of the Epiphany

Genesis, Chapter 20, Verse 8
Early the next morning Abimelech called all his servants and informed them of everything that had happened, and the men were filled with fear.

Abimelech was a pagan King warned in a dream not to take Sarah; who by accounts in the scripture was a most beautiful and alluring woman, into his Harem because she was the wife of Abram (Abraham) a visitor to his kingdom. Abimelech even though a pagan was a righteous man; so, he was warned in a dream from God about Sarah. Abimelech and his servants and men demonstrated holy fear when they realized how close the King came to culminating a grievous sin that surely would have caused the ruin of the entire kingdom. Being honest men they may have listen to that small still voice of God’s spirit that calls men to right actions knowing instinctively the words God spoke on mount Sinai to Moses “I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.”(Exodus, 20:5-6)

I would like to share something of why Sarah was one of the most beautiful women of all times.

The apparent implication is that Sarah was beautiful inside and out—and what’s more, that the inside and outside were interdependent. Her face was a transparent canvas from which emanated her inner radiance. Chassidic philosophy demonstrates three ways in which the body and soul can interact:

·         The soul can try and mitigate the urges of the body. Things that look good, taste good and feel good are stimulating and addictive. Most of us live life with our body in the driver’s seat. The soul just can’t compete. And so the soul tries to negotiate reasonably, and encourages moderation.
·         Or, the soul can choose to reject the body and abhor anything associated with materialism. The soul-driven person would then rebel against society’s shallow and false veneers. Simplicity and ascetism become the ultimate goals of the soul.
·         The third scenario is not a compromise between the first two. It is an entirely new approach, where the body and soul learn to work together. The soul neither leans towards the body nor rejects it. It does not react; it pro-acts. In a proactive position, the soul directs and channels the body’s inclination in a constructive way.

In this last approach, instead of repressing the body’s needs, the soul views them as an opportunity to serve God in a whole new way. [1]

Now is the time to plan to attain a religious retreat or conference before Easter. This book was conceived after attending a Marian conference.[2]


Epiphany: the Holy Light of the Manifestations (January 6)[3]


Traditionally today is the Feast of the Epiphany or the day the three kings presented gifts to Christ. They are an example of men who overcame great obstacles and their own fears to come and present gifts to our Lord. They also being wise men knew that they could not trust Herod when he asked them to return to him and tell him where Christ was. It is not always possible to get to a win-win situation and we must also use our wisdom as the three Kings did and know when we must fight, run, do nothing, compromise or prepare for growth. Christ reveals Himself not just to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, as the visitation of the Magi makes clear that the Light of Christ did not come to illuminate one nation but all, and so on the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate His first manifestation (epiphaneia) to the Gentiles, the three Magi who followed His star from the East. This manifestation also leads us to consider other "firsts" -- the first manifestation of His mission at His Baptism and the first manifestation of His power at the wedding of Cana. Hence both are also remembered on the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany is one of the greatest feasts of the liturgical year. The twelfth day after Christmas, it concludes Christmastide proper by celebrating the "manifestation," or epiphaneia, of Christ to the Gentiles. To this day the Eastern churches consider Epiphany more important than Christmas. The Holy Spirit's guidance of these wise men to the Holy Land through the aid of a star signifies the calling of all nations, not just the Jews, to the New Covenant. But this "manifestation" to non-Jews also calls to mind other manifestations of our Lord's divinity. The Nativity continues to be remembered as the first crucial manifestation, but so too does the Baptism of our Lord in the Jordan, since it affirms both His divinity as well as His humanity. And the wedding of Cana comes to mind because it was Christ's first public manifestation of His power with the transubstantiation of water into wine. (It also comes to mind because the Gospel uses the word "manifest" (ephanerosen) to describe this event (Jn. 2.11).) Finally, the manifestations of Jesus Christ during His earthly existence ineluctably lead us to consider His final manifestation in glory, a manifestation for which we have longed throughout Advent and Christmastide. Hence St. John Chrysostom says in his sermon on Epiphany:

There are two manifestations of Christ, not one. The first is the one which has already happened, His epiphany in the present. The second is the one of the future which will come at the end of time with great splendor and glory. You have heard read today what St. Paul writes to Titus about both of these epiphanies. Concerning the first he says, "The grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men..." About the second he writes, "We look for the blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2.11-13) (On the Baptism of Christ).

It is for these reasons that St. Gregory Nazianzus refers to Epiphany as the "the Holy light of the manifestations."


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