It’s such a gift to have an epiphany, that aha moment when you finally get it. This revelation or new insight spurs on your growth and motivation. While this type of epiphany is good, it isn’t quite the kind of epiphany that we are taking about in this lesson.
The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ is one of the oldest Christian feasts. It marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas, and is traditionally celebrated on January 6. Epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning “to reveal.” (Aha!) The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the Magi, or wise men from the East, visiting the Christ child and bringing Him gifts of….what?
- Gold – was the sign of the wealth of a king
- Frankincense – a plant resin, was used to make incense
- Myrrh – an ointment made from a plant resin, was used to prepare the bodies of the dead for burial
So how are these three gifts appropriate gifts for a newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes? If that newborn is God Incarnate, then what better gifts than:
- Frankincense to represent the prayers made to Him
- Myrrh to remind us of the salvation He won for us on the cross
- Gold to always keep before us that this most humble of creatures, a helpless newborn, is the King of kings
During the Epiphany, we, just like the Magi, can give Him our gifts as well; we can give Him our own versions of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Pope Francis is opening the door for us to embark on the Lord’s great gift of mercy in our lives. The Holy Father’s desire for us is for mercy to infiltrate our lives over this next year. Not only do we need to accept this gift with open arms and an open heart, we need to gift it to others.
To give the gift of mercy, try assembling some Mercy Bags. The instructions are in Family Formation’s Year of Mercy Activity Packet and the recipients can vary with your circumstances. If you occasionally see people on the street asking for food, money, or a job, you can be ready to hand them this bag of items that are both portable and immediately useful. If you live in a place where that doesn’t happen, the Mercy Bags are still perfect to donate to a food shelf or local shelter. Either way, this is a very easy project for your kids to help with and you’ll have lots of opportunity to talk about extending God’s love to everyone. (Maybe an aha! moment for them!)
To receive the gift of mercy, the best suggestion we can possibly give is to go to confession regularly. Whenever you go, Pope Francis says it’s “an encounter with Jesus whose mercy motivates us to do better.” Who wouldn’t want their family to grow in that way?
It’s likely your family went sometime during Advent; why not keep this monthly Mercy momentum going? Use the Reconciliation Challenge cards from the packet to help you keep track.