Because we celebrate the Birth of our Saviour on Dec. 25 and His Manifestation (that's what the word epiphany means) on Jan. 6, we might be tempted to think that His birth and His self-disclosure were two different events. His birth, in fact, was the beginning of Jesus' self-revelation as God in the flesh. The Epistle we read on Christmas Eve makes this clear, with Paul's ringing words, “the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” That verb “appeared” in the Greek is precisely the word from which “Epiphany” is derived.
The Incarnation, also known as the Epiphany of God in Jesus Christ, puts the whole human race into the predicament of Job, who was finally compelled to say, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee.” Job did not claim to have suddenly stumbled on a new idea; he has seen God Himself! When we see in the mysteries of Christmas and Epiphany God Himself made flesh, we are reminded that Lent is not far off. So with Job let us say, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” As He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, the Gospel story quickly tells us how He was wrapped in a shroud and laid in a tomb. That also is an epiphany we would never have arrived at on our own. LKW