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Feast of Epiphany Notes – Matthew 2:1-12

by pastorjuhl ~ January 6th, 2010

Smith’s Bible Dictionary on “Magi”
Most likely they come from Persia, near the Tigris and Euphrates. Their religion was similar to the Jews. They were monotheistic, anti-idolaters who worshiped light as the best symbol of God. The Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius write that everyone throughout the East looked for the advent of a great king to rise from the Jews. It  had fermented in the minds of men, heathen and Jew, and would have led them to welcome Jesus as the Christ had He come in accordance with their expectation. Daniel was a prince and chief among this very class of wise men. His prophecies were made known to them; and the calculations by which he pointed to the very time when Christ should be born became, through the book of Daniel, a part of their ancient literature.

Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace”
If December 25 is Christendom’s family feast and a time for home gatherings, Epiphany is the official, universal solemnity for the catholic Church…. The feast’s basic message pertains less to the historical event from the infancy of Jesus than to the implications of the great “epiphany”, i.e., the Son of God becoming manifest to the world….Among Christians of the East, it is the baptism of Jesus that is stressed. The Western Church prefers [to stress] the adoration of the Magi.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, “The Liturgical Year”
The Feast of the Epiphany is the continuation of the mystery of Christmas; but it appears on the calendar of the Church with its own special character. Its very name, which signifies Manifestation, implies that it celebrates the apparition of God to His creatures.

At Christmas it was a few shepherds that were invited by the angels to go and recognize the Word made flesh; but now, at the Epiphany, the voice of God Himself calls the whole world to adore this Jesus, and hear Him.

Blessed Johann Gerhard’s Postilla
Many become deterred from confessing Christ [because] they are afraid that they will not obtain their temporal peace and welfare. Such is the unfathomable corruption of the human heart that one world rather forego Christ and His heavenly blessings than temporal welfare – even though there is no comparison between the two.

[The wise men] had undertaken such a long journey to this newly born King and disregarded the glory and riches which they possessed in their homeland…. The wise men surmounted such an exquisite scandal only and solely by the fact that they looked to God’s Word – which they had heard from the scribes. We, too, should follow this example.

Just as the physical light in the Creation arose from the Divine Word, so also the spiritual Light which is necessary for conversion arises from the Divine Word.

Among all of physical creation, there is nothing more joyful than light, as is experienced by those who for a lengthy time have been kept locked up in a dark prison and are later on released. So also there can be nothing more lovely or rich in joy than the light of divine knowledge – from which springs forth peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Blessed Martin Luther
The greatest and foremost skill – no matter who the person is – is to cling firmly to the Word and conceive of the things of God in no other way than as the Word tells us. For this reason we should accustom ourselves to know nothing about God and Christ apart from the Word…. We, therefore, should not try to pry into the hidden things concerning Christ’s rule over His kingdom, and so on, but simply adhere to the Word as He deals with us in the preaching of His Gospel, in baptism, absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. Whenever one abandons the Word and speculates without and apart from the Word, reason becomes a very uncertain, slippery thing.

Matthew narrates this history only because he wants to show how Christ’s birth is not so secret that the Jews have an excuse not to go to Him… [The Jews] sleep through the birth of their King while foreigners must seek it out and find a better experience of His birth than their own.

When the Gospel says that the Wise Men worshiped the Child, it is understood that they not only had knelt and acknowledged Him as Lord with their body, but also by their spirit. For they did not just honor Him outwardly, and acknowledge Him as King with their actions, but rather it was an activity of their hearts that did not regard Him as an ordinary child, but rather as Messiah, for whom they had awaited as Abraham’s Seed.

It is not enough that you have or know the Gospel. Rather it must be believed and grasped with the heart. Else we will not find Christ. By all means, see here that it does not depend upon a person’s being learned or unlearned, whether he knows much or little Scripture. To whom God gives it, he has it. He does not consider the person but rather whom He draws will be drawn. He always lets this happen whenever the Gospel is preached.

In Natali Domini, Menaea of the Greek Orthodox Church
I hear the Angels singing at Bethlehem Gloria in excelsis Deo! I hear them tell us, that there is peace on earth, to men of good will. Oh! see that Virgin, she is lovelier than the heavens:- for, from her has risen a Light to them that sat in darkness, exalting humble hearts that sing, as did the Angels, Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Rejoice, O Israel! Sing forth praise, all ye that love Sion! The chain of Adam’s condemnation is broken; Paradise is opened to us; the Serpent is weakened, for woman, whom he had deceived in the beginning, is now before his gaze – the Mother of the Creator. Oh! the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! She that had brought death, – the work of sin – into all flesh, is now, through the Mother of God, made the source of salvation. For of Her is born a Little Child, who is the all-perfect God, and who, by his Birth, did but consecrate the Virginity of his Mother; by his swathing-bands, he loosened the chains of sin; and by his own Infancy, he comforted the pangs of child-birth to sorrowing Eve. Let every creature now keep choir and be glad, for Christ is come that he may reclaim mankind, and save our souls.

Thy Nativity, O Lord our God! brought to the world the light of knowledge; for, by it, they that had adored the stars, were taught, by a Star, to adore thee, the Sun of Justice, and acknowledge thee as the Orient from on high. Glory be to thee, O Lord!

Eden has been opened in Bethlehem! Come, let us go and see; we shall find the hidden Treasure. Come, let us go and possess in the Cave the things that are in Paradise. Here it is that there has appeared the unwatered Root, that has budded forth our pardon. Here is the well not dug by human hand, at whose water David heretofore desired to drink. Here a Virgin has brought forth a Child, by whom she quickly slakes the thirst of Adam and David. Therefore, let us go with quicker haste to the place where is born the new Babe, who is God before all ages.

Rejoice, ye just; be glad, ye heavens; exult, ye mountains! Christ is born. The Virgin, cherub-like, sits bearing on her lap God, the Word made Flesh. The Shepherds are giving glory to the Babe. The Magi are offering gifts to the Lord. The Angels are singing this hymn: O Incomprehensible God! glory be to thee.

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