Today, January 6th, is historically the Feast of the Epiphany, a day of obligation in places where still celebrated, and the conclusion of the traditional 12 Days of Christmas. Of course, in the United States and many other countries, the feast (and the obligation to attend Mass) is officially transferred to the Sunday that falls between January 2nd-8th. As such, the obligation to attend Mass on January 6th is not binding and has not been for many years. However, in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (or Traditional Latin Mass) Epiphany is still celebrated on January 6th. One of the places where you can attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form is at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in South St. Louis. So, on this final day of the 12 Days of Christmas, we present to you a portion of a sermon from one of the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King stationed at St. Francis de Sales.
By Canon Andrew Todd | Vicar, St. Francis de Sales Oratory
O God, who on this day by the leading of a star didst manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; mercifully grant that we who know Thee now by faith, may be brought to the contemplation of the beauty of Thy majesty.
– The Collect from the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th
The mystery of today’s feast can be summed up in the words of the Collect. Just as the Magi were led to the Christ Child by the light of a star, we too ask to continue on this journey towards Christ guided by the light of faith. Today we meditate on this great faith of the Magi, and we ask God for an increase of faith.
The example of the Magi is one for us to follow. In today’s Epistle reading, Isaiah (Is. 60:1-6) speaks of the darkness covering the earth. How true was it in the time of our Lord! He was the light who was born in darkness and He led the Magi to Him by the sign of a star! It is that same light of Faith which leads us today. It is only faith which can truly illuminate us to follow Christ. It is only faith which makes us believe that God became man, lived and died in order to save us.
“In the story of the Magi the prophet’s vision became reality for the first time. But that story was not to remain an historical episode merely. Our very actions during the Gospel prove the opposite; for when we kneel at the words, ‘falling down they worshipped Him,’ we bear witness that we are not only listening to the narrative, but that we are, in fact, identifying ourselves with the Magi.” (The Church’s Year of Grace, Parsch, Vol I, pg. 270 )
We bow down in faith to this God made-man. We bow down in faith in front of the Christ Child.
For us, this might be easy. We can believe that Christ has come to save us this way. Maybe our journey of faith, unlike that of the Magi, was easy. However, what is more difficult is to live by this light of faith. When we live by faith, we consider everything by its light: God, first of all, then ourselves, others, friends or strangers and all agreeable or painful events. Let us have that faith of the Magi who traveled great distances to adore the King of Kings. Our faith, just like the Magi, must guide us through our journey on this earth. When we put our confidence and abandon ourselves to God’s will on this earth we truly live by faith.
At the outset of this New Year, let us follow the example of the Magi. In the darkness of this world through its indifference and skepticism or through its sufferings and pains, let us hold fast, hold fast by our faith to the light of Christ who will guide us, no matter whatever lies on our journey this year.
This is the twelfth and final post in a 12-day series of posts with the purpose of helping readers deepen their appreciation for, and celebration of, the 12 Days of Christmas, a season which traditionally concludes today with the Feast of the Epiphany.
We hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has helped in some way to deepen your spiritual life during these 12 Days of Christmas.