Happy Epiphany

Happy Epiphany

Fr. Martin Fox offers one of the best Epiphany homilies I've ever seen, which it's mostly an extended quote from Flannery O'Connor. There's no less credit to Fr. Fox for finding it and using it.

“‘Who is this?’ the world said. ‘Who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter?

“‘Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?’


“‘Listen world,’” O’Connor’s young evangelist cried out. “Jesus is coming again! Will you know the Lord Jesus then?

“If you don’t know Him now, you won’t know Him then.”

  • Domenico:

    Thanks for the plug.

    I actually found that quote, and used it first, three years ago. It just is so good. But I discovered, via an internet-search, that many others have noticed this great passage.

  • Slightly-OT—Some things I’ve wondered about, but don’t know where to look:

    What was the monetary value of the gifts the Magi gave? Based on what little we know about them (e.g., “possibly”[?] from some priestly class [“caste”?] in Persia, etc.), what would be the value of the gifts they gave the Holy Family? What would gift-giving customs/practices, in that area of the world and at that time, dictate? Given that they’re supposed to b “honoring” the “new born King of the Jews,” might they have given the Holy Family a whole “lot” of gold, frankincense, and myrrh? And if so, what measurement constitutes “a whole lot”? According to some custom/rule/practice/etc., might it be that different amounts of each gift were given? (E.g., a big boxload of gold and, a “small” jar of myrrh?)

    Given the best “guesstimate” of what was given, a)what would be the monetary value of these gifts today? b)what was the monetary value of the gifts when and where they were given? c)how long would the money have lasted? Some have suggested that Jesus’s Parents “probably” might have sold the gifts for money. If they did, how long might this money have lasted?

    Modern investing, at least as we know it, didn’t really exist back then. But the Parable of the Talents seems to suggest that *something* akin to banking existed in Jesus’s time, the usury prohibition notwithstanding.

    Anyway, I was just wondering. Just a curiousity of mine.
    I know it probably has no bearing on the Deep Question of Human Existence, or theological controversies, or anything like that.

  • What was the monetary value of the gifts the Magi gave?

    I’m always amazed at this question, from a practical point o’ view.

    Yes, yes, the symbolic is great: gold for a King, incense for God, myrrh for the suffering and death.

    But am I the only one who figured out that Joseph and Mary used the gifts to finance the flight into Egypt? Gold always works.

  • You’re not the only one, Kelly. I think it’s part of pious tradition (small “t” tradition).

    As for the rest of the questions, there’s no way to know amounts. It’s not like they were visiting the usual sort of king or even that they knew they were visiting the usual sort.

    The best you could do would be to consult some biblical archeology references, but even they would be slightly less wild guesses.

  • Thanks for your replies (hmm—oh yeah, the flight from Herod, almost forgot about that).

    Well, anyway, like I said, it’s just a curiousity of mine.

    And speaking of “pious traditions,” trawling through “Catholicblogs.com” I came across a bunch of interesting stuff about Epiphany and the Magi.
    Regrettably, most of this stuff is new to me (or—albeit less likely—stuff I’ve forgotten).

    The “Epiphany House Blessing” is new to me.
    Another thing new thing learned was this legend that the Magi, upon arriving back home, supposedly resigned their positions, sold their property and gave away their wealth to the poor, and lead proto-Christian ascetic lives until, 40 years later, they encountered St. Thomas, formally joined the Church, and then joined the priesthood.

    This would, seemingly, be at odds with the tradition about the Magi relics at Cologne Cathedral, however. When the shrine to the Magi was opened in 1864, the bones were said to be those of “one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged.”
    “40 years” is a long time. How could one be someone “in his early youth” and another of one in his “early manhood”? Of course, it’s possible that these 2 were somehow genetically-lucky when it came to aging. Also, the “40” also could be another “pious tradition” (see Lent and the significance of the number 40 in the Bible).

    BTW, I visited the Cologne Cathedral in ‘94. Beautiful place. Beautiful shrine too. For years after that, I falsely “remembered” that the shrine’s relics were the actual gifts of the Magi. This crazy curiousity of mine began after this false memory was corrected. But I never seriously tried to explore it until now. Thanks for trying to address it.

    PS: if you want to see a really *silly* take on the Magi tradition, check out the sci-fi novel “Map of Bones” by James Rollins. (Books like that make me glad libraries exist; I’d hate to have had to pay for the thing…)