Presentation on theme: "The Magi and Their Gifts The Church's celebration of Epiphany (appearance, revelation, manifestation), the "twelfth night of Christmas," apparently originated."— Presentation transcript:
The Magi and Their Gifts The Church's celebration of Epiphany (appearance, revelation, manifestation), the "twelfth night of Christmas," apparently originated in Egypt sometime during the third century.
Epiphany Epiphany is traditionally celebrated in honor of Christ's birth, of the adoration of the Magi, and of the baptism of Christ's (also celebrated on the first Sunday following Epiphany), three manifestations of the Lord's divinity. The Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and tonight is known as "Twelfth Night".
Appearance/Magi to the Magi who, guided by the great and mysterious Star of Bethlehem, came to visit Him when He was a Baby (Matthew 2:1-19)
Revelation/Baptism through His Baptism by St. John, when "the Spirit of God descending as a dove" came upon Him and there was heard a voice from Heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3, Mark 1, Luke 3, John 1), and the revelation of all Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity.
Manifestation/ Miracle through His first public miracle -- that of the wedding at Cana when Our Lord turned water into wine at the request of His Mother (John 2). Just as God's first miracle before the Egyptian pharaoh, through Moses, was turning the waters of the Nile into blood, Our Lord's first miracle was turning water into wine.
Old Testament Prophecies Typified in the Old Testament by the Queen of Saba (Sheba), who entered Jerusalem "with a great train, and riches, and camels that carried spices, and an immense quantity of gold, and precious stones" in order to ascertain King Solomon's greatness (III Kings 10), the three Magi entered Jerusalem bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the newborn King.
Kingly Gold the gold as a sign of His Kingship. The gifts of gold and frankincense were both prophesied by Isaias in the sixth chapter of his book.
Divinity/Frankincense the frankincense -- a gum resin (i.e., dried tree sap) from the Boswellia tree, native to Somalia and southern coastal Arabia -- as a sign of His Deity. Mixed with stacte, and onycha, and sweet galbanum, it was used by Moses to set before the tabernacle as an offering to God, and was considered so "holy to the Lord" that it was forbidden to use profanely (see Numbers 30).
Humanity/death/myrrh the myrrh -- a brownish gum resin from the Commiphora abyssinica tree, native to eastern Africa and Arabia, and used in embalming -- as a sign of His death. Myrrh, along with cinnamon and cassius, was used by Moses to "anoint the tabernacle of the testimony, and the ark of the testament" (Numbers 30). It has analgesic properties, too, and was offered, mixed with wine, to Christ on the Cross, which He refused (Mark 15:23). Nicodemus brought myrrh to annoint Our Lord's Body after death (John 19:39).
Magi/Kings/Wisemen The three Magi -- Caspar (a.k.a., Gaspar, Kaspar or Jaspar), Melchior, and Balthasar -- are seen as the "first fruits of the Gentiles" -- those outside of Israel who came to faith. They undoubtedly travelled from Persia (modern Iran, a distance of about a thousand miles from Bethlehem), and their ancestral origins are probably found in Persia, Babylon (modern Iraq), Arabia, India, and/or Ethiopia.
Three??? How do we know there were three? We don't know that from Scripture, but tradition relates that were were three, and that there were three gifts mentioned supports this notion as well. Tradition says, too, that these three men were representative of the three ages of man and of the three "racial types" of man, the three families that descended from Noe's three sons (Sem, Cham, and Japheth).
Melchoir/Gold Melchior was an old, white-haired, bearded descendant of Sem who brought gold.
Caspar/Frankincense According to tradition, Caspar was the young, beardless, ruddy descendant of Ham who brought frankincense.
Balthasar/Myrrh. And Balthasar was a bearded black descendant of Japheth, in the prime of his life, who brought myrrh.
Feast Days Tradition also has it that the kings were baptized by St. Thomas, and they are considered Saints of the Church. Though their feasts aren't celebrated liturgically, the dates given for them in the martyrology are as follows: St. Caspar on 1 January; St. Melchior on 6 January; and St. Balthasar on 11 January.
Tradition Several lovely family customs are associated with Epiphany. It is on Epiphany that the Christmas creche is finally completed, as the figures of the three wise men at last arrive at the crib. In many families, the wise men are moved a bit closer to the crib every day from Christmas Day until Epiphany. Also, recalling the gifts to the Infant Jesus, many families exchange small gifts.
Tradition A time-honored custom (especially in France) is the baking of a cake with a bean or trinket hidden inside. The person whose cake contains the bean is made king of the feast. Processions of robed and crowned "wise men" to the manger are fun for little ones, and provide them with an opportunity to think of a good deed that they can offer as a gift to Jesus.
Tradition The blessing of the home is also a popular Epiphany custom. using specially blessed chalk (your parish priest will bless the chalk, if you ask, or use the prayer of blessing below), many households mark their entrance door with the year and with the inscription CMB, the initial Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the names of the three wise man in legend. The inscription also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means "Christ, bless this home." The popular form the inscription takes is 20+C+M+B+11. It remains above the doorway until Pentecost.
Epiphany Cake A common custom in many cultures, is the Epiphany cake containing a trinket or bean, the person who finds it in his piece becoming the king of the feast. Sometimes there are two trinkets, or one bean and one pea: one for a king and one one for a queen. In the royal courts of the later Middle Ages, these customs were very popular.
Inculturation. Some believe these celebrations derived from pagan Roman customs associated with Saturnalia, which fell at around the same time as Christmas. If so, it can be seen as an example of "inculturation", or transforming pre-Christian customs and practices by giving them Christian significance. The Roman theme of the lordship of the feast was easily shifted to the Epiphany theme of kingship: that of Christ himself and of the Magi, or "Three Kings".