Epiphany is the unfolding of God’s presence; it is the manifestation or the unveiling of the face of God!
God first made manifest his presence through creation which we call the vestiges or the imprints of the Trinity. It was God’s first epiphany! It was the outpouring of God's charity!
When Jesus was born, God made manifest not just his imprints but his very face when he showed himself again to save creation by becoming a creature himself. Through this epiphany, Jesus showed that his was the face of mercy! This time it was the outpouring of God’s mercy!
God offered Himself as a gift. How did people respond to such a magnificent gift? The Israelites sneered and rejected the gift; they would not even give him a room! Like the Israelites, Herod did not just reject the gift but he did all he could to destroy it. The magi who represented the Gentiles left their homes in search of “something greater than themselves”. The star guided them in their journey. (Those who honestly search for the meaning of life will always be guided by the disguised presence of God be it through the persons they meet on the way or through simple objects or even through insignificant events. Some of the stars in our lives fade away in oblivion, we may even forget their names but they continuously shine brightly in our hearts.) The magi offered the baby their gifts; they searched for Jesus not to ask but to give gifts to him!
The next persons who saw first the face of God were the shepherds because they were simple and pure of heart. Like the magi, they were the first ones to proclaim the Word made flesh. In the simplicity of their wisdom, they became the first prophets of the Incarnation. Those who encounter God can not but become “evangelizers of the Word” not only by preaching but in the witnessing of their ordinary lives.
But the very first receivers of God’s gift were Mary and Joseph; they were given the singular gift of gazing for the very first time the face of God. One day, it would break Mary’s heart to see that face again covered with blood. Mary would have to give that gift to others as a supreme offering for to withhold the gift is to perish. She teaches us that the supreme joy of receiving will lead to the excruciating pain in giving. That is the true essence of a gift.
God’s greatest gift is himself! He gives it through many creative and unexpected ways, often in great surprises!