January 7, 2024

Dear beloved parish family,

As we gather this weekend, we immerse ourselves in the profound mystery and joy of the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany, also known as the Feast of the Three Kings. This ancient celebration, predating even Christmas, takes us back to the earliest centuries of our faith. It commemorates the Magi’s journey – wise men from the East who represent Christ’s revelation to all nations, inviting everyone to recognize Jesus Christ as the true King and Savior.

The word “epiphany,” with its Greek roots, signifies a “revealing” or a “manifestation.” In the context of our faith, it beautifully captures the various moments when Jesus’s divine and human nature was revealed to the world: His birth, the adoration by the Magi, His baptism in the Jordan River, and His first miracle at Cana. These events, once celebrated together on this day, are now spread across our liturgical calendar, giving us space to reflect on each aspect of Christ’s manifestation.

Epiphany is adorned with meaningful customs. The nativity scene, a central piece of our Christmas devotion, reaches its full expression with the addition of the Magi, symbolizing their journey to worship the Christ Child. This tradition, along with the practice of gift-giving in some cultures, harkens back to the Magi’s gifts to Jesus, adding depth to our celebrations.

In many countries, including my native Vietnam and Italy where I have lived for many years, the festive spirit extends until the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. The Twelfth Night, preceding Epiphany, is celebrated with cultural delicacies – from spice wines in Europe to spicy foods in the Orient, in memory of the Magi’s Eastern origins.

One charming tradition is the baking of an Epiphany cake, often a fruit or spice cake with a hidden trinket. The person who finds this token is named King or Queen of the feast, echoing the royal homage paid to Jesus by the Magi.

While these traditions add color and joy to our celebration, the heart of Epiphany remains our participation in the Holy Mass. It is in the Mass that we truly encounter the mystery and majesty of Christ’s revelation to the world. As we come together for this sacred celebration, let us embrace the spirit of the Magi – their pursuit of truth, their joy upon finding Jesus, and their homage to Him. These wise men, guided by a star, remind us to seek and follow Christ in our daily lives.

As we mark this Epiphany, I encourage each of you to reflect on how the journey of the Magi mirrors our own faith journey. Just as they followed a star to find Jesus, may we too follow the light of our faith to find deeper meaning, connection, and purpose in our lives. Let this feast be a catalyst for renewal in our spiritual lives, encouraging us to seek Christ with renewed vigor and to share His light with those around us.

As we celebrate, let’s also contemplate how we can carry the spirit of this feast into our everyday lives. Whether it be in acts of kindness, in moments of prayer, or in our daily duties, let us be guided by the star of our faith, leading us ever closer to Jesus.

Wishing you a blessed and joyous Epiphany. May this season fill your hearts with the light of Christ and guide your steps throughout the coming year.

In Christ’s love,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham