Epiphany Gifts

Today is the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord.

The word “epiphany” comes from a Greek term meaning manifestation or appearance and in Christian terms refers to the revelation of God becoming human in the person of Jesus. St. Gregory the Great spoke of creation responding to the Incarnation: “When the king of heaven was born, the heavens knew that he was God because they immediately sent forth a star; the sea knew him because it allowed him to walk upon it; the earth knew him because it trembled when he died; the sun knew him because it hid the rays of its light.”

The Gospel reading for today is the visit to the Christ child by the Magi “from the east,” who made a long and hard journey to pay homage to the newborn king, having seen “his star at its rising.”

When I think of the gifts the Magi brought to the Christ child, I am reminded of one of my favorite stories, Henry Van Dyke’s, “The Story of the Other Wise Man.” It is the story of a man named Artaban. Along with his friends – Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, Artaban searched the ancient tablets that told of the coming of a star that would lead them to the Anointed One.

Although Artaban was to meet his friends and travel with them to the child, something happened that prevented him from doing so. Van Dyke’s narration of Artaban’s experiences tells us something about the gift Christ really wants from us.

I have used this story a couple of times to end our Advent Retreats in Daily Living at the law school. This is a recording of a talk I gave a couple of years ago telling the story.


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