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Epiphany: Culmination of Prophecies

[1] At the first time the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali was lightly touched: and at the last the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of the Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded. [2] The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen. [3] Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. They shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest, as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils. [4] For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor thou hast overcome, as in the day of Median. [5] For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire.

[6] For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace. [7] His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 9:  1-7

 

 

Epiphany is a great feast for any number of reasons, but one reason is not often remarked upon as often as it should be in my opinion.  The Three Wise Men were the first gentiles to worship Christ.  Throughout the Old Testament there were statements that when the Messiah came, He would be bringing salvation not only for the Jews but for all people.  From His birth Christ was the light for the Gentiles predicted by Isaiah.

At Epiphany in 412 AD, Saint Augustine hit this point home:

“Therefore, the whole Church of the Gentiles has adopted this day as a feast worthy of most devout celebration, for who were the Magi but the first-fruits of the Gentiles? The shepherds were Israelites; the Magi, Gentiles. The one group came from nearby; the other, from afar. Both, however, were united in [Christ] the cornerstone.”
Prior to the coming of Christ there were signs of what was to come.   in the decades prior to the coming of Christ Gentiles often gathered outside of synagogues to here the teachings about God.  Virgil in his Fourth Eclogue, written in the half century before Christ wrote:
Muses of Sicily, essay we now
A somewhat loftier task! Not all men love
Coppice or lowly tamarisk: sing we woods,
Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.
Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung
Has come and gone, and the majestic roll
Of circling centuries begins anew:
Justice returns, returns old Saturn’s reign,
With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.
Only do thou, at the boy’s birth in whom
The iron shall cease, the golden race arise,
Befriend him, chaste Lucina; ’tis thine own
Apollo reigns. And in thy consulate,
This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,
And the months enter on their mighty march.
Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain
Of our old wickedness, once done away,
Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.
He shall receive the life of gods, and see
Heroes with gods commingling, and himself
Be seen of them, and with his father’s worth
Reign o’er a world at peace.
There was  a generalized belief among the Gentiles just prior to the birth of Christ that a great King was about to born in the East to rule the world.  Suetonius who lived  circa 70AD-130AD refers to this belief in his Life of the Twelve Caesars:
An ancient superstition was current in the East, that out of Judea would come the rulers of the world. The prediction, as it later proved, referred to two Roman Emperors, Vespasian and his son Titus; but the rebellious Jews, who read it as referring to themselves, murdered their Procurator, routed the Governor-general of Syria when he came down to restore order, and captured an Eagle. To crush this uprising the Romans needed a strong army under an energetic commander, who could be trusted not to abuse his plenary powers. The choice fell on Vespasian.
The worship of the Magi was the beginning of the salvation of the Gentiles that had so long been predicted.  What the Prophets had seen as in a glass and darkly was brought to glorious light at the Epiphany.
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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

One Comment

  1. If wise men were to come from the East today they would say that the light in the Catholic Church has grown too dim to follow and that the leadership is to blame.

    Vatican II was a catastrophe for the Church and must be abrogated in it’s entirety.

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