Epiphany is the Rodney Dangerfield of Christian holidays. It gets no respect; most of us are done celebrating Christmas by New Year’s Day. However, beginning with the Annunciation, so much of the liturgical calendar is pointing directly at Epiphany. Let’s take a look at how we get there in 10 easy steps.
March 25, Solemnity of Annunciation of the Lord: At the hour of midnight, while absorbed in prayer, the Blessed Virgin Mary receives a visit from the Archangel Gabriel. “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. … Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:28, 30-31, 38).
- May 31, Feast of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: The expectant Mother of God, attentive to the needs of her more pregnant kinswoman Elizabeth, hurries across the rugged hill country on a visit born out of pure kindness and selflessness. Elizabeth greets her, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:42-44).
- June 24, Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist: How did Elizabeth know her familiar younger cousin was the Mother of God? She knew it by the child she carried within her, he who was to be the herald of the Lord from the moment of his conception. “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:15-16).
November 25, Solemnity of Christ the King: With an ever-growing desire, all Advent awaits the “coming King”,which is echoed in the chants of the Divine Office. Who will the Church greet on Christmas? Not merely the Child of Bethlehem, but King of Glory. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
- December 8, Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: As Eve was created in purity and integrity, so was Our Blessed Mother. She is the woman whose obedience would untie the knot of Eve’s disobedience. “Full of grace” from the moment of her conception, preserved from the stain of original sin, she was uniquely suited to be the new Eve, the mother of all the living, God-bearer. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
- December 25, Solemnity of Nativity of the Lord: The Word incarnate, the Savior of mankind, is finally born! At last, we have true hope! We can’t save ourselves, but He can. The fusion of man and God, of creature and the Creator, is the cure for the mortal disease that has afflicted us from the first moment of our conception. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).
- December 28, Feast of the Holy Innocents: From the moment of his birth, Christ is the choice, for Him or against Him, which has been set before mankind. The silent screams of the present-day victims of abortion echo back 20 centuries to Herod’s mass-murder of the Holy Innocents, whose company they now enjoy in heaven. “Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more’” (Matthew 2:17-18).
December 30, Feast of the Holy Family: The humanity of Jesus was protected and nurtured under the mutual bond of love between St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother, head and heart in perfect harmony. In humility and obedience, Christ’s participation in the Holy Family, an integral component of his life and ministry, elevates the family to the level of domestic Church. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:51-52).
- January 1, Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God: In bestowing upon Our Lady this highest of titles, the full divinity of Jesus is fully revealed. For the first time in the plan of salvation, the Father found the place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among mankind. “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
- January 6, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord: On this, the Liturgical apex of the Advent-Christmas season, the Church celebrates the manifestation of our Lord to the whole world. Jesus Christ is revealed to the Magi who have come from the East to adore Him, just as we do today in Eucharistic Adoration. “They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:10-11).