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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

10 January 2018: Christine Traynier - St Laurence Catholic Church


The Feast of the Epiphany was on the 6th January.

In the Catholic Church the Epiphany is a Holyday of Obligation when all Catholics are expected to attend Mass. In the 1950s I attended a school where most of the teachers were nuns and we always had a day off for such feast days. The Spring term always began after the Epiphany.

Epiphany celebrates the visitation of the ‘wise men from the East’ to the baby Jesus (Matthew chapter 2), as prophesied in the Old Testament. I remember one of my teachers telling us it was the most important feast day of the year, as it was the first time that Jesus was shown to the Gentiles - the manifestation of Christ to non-Jewish people.

The Wise Men or Magi as they have become popularly known, most likely came from Persia, modern-day Iran. This means they travelled 800 to 900 miles to see the Christ child.

The Wise Men were guided to look for the King of the Jews by a bright star. Scientific explanations for this celestial phenomenon vary, but options include a comet (possibly Halley’s) and the triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7BC. Alternatively, God’s divine message may have been signified by a supernatural event beyond the scope of science.

The tragic side of the Wise Men’s visit is the murder of all male children under two years old by King Herod, who was alarmed at the prospect of a threat from a new king. How could anyone be so cruel? Unfortunately the answer is all too obviously displayed to this day with the bombing of the cultural centre in Kabul just after Christmas, the terrorist attack on the Manchester Arena last summer or less than 100 years ago the murder of at least 15 million people for being born Jewish.

While such heinous acts continue to be an all too familiar feature of modern life, Epiphany is the time to re-affirm Christ’s message of peace and love towards neighbour and enemy alike.

Two PACT Events for your Diary (1) PACT AGM: Wednesday 17 January at St Peters, 7:30 pm (2) PACT Unity Service: Sunday 21 January at St Laurence, 4:30 pm

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