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The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
by W. J. Hankey
from COMMON PRAYER, Volume Six: Parochial Homilies for the Eucharist 
Based on the Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer, 1962, Canada. 
St. Peter Publications Inc. Charlottetown, PEI, Canada.  Reprinted with permission of the publisher.
Send out thy light and thy truth that they may lead me and 
bring me unto thy holy hill and to thy dwelling. (Psalm 43.3)

Epiphany began when the regal representatives of the wisdom, wealth and devotion of the world worshipped a child in a manger. Epiphany ends when “all the tribes of the earth mourn” at the sight of the “Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

At the beginning, we prayed in the collect that Christ veiled in flesh, and known by faith, might lead us “till at the end we see the vision of his heavenly glory.” (BCP p. 117)  Today, as we anticipate his appearance in purifying flame and glory, we pray that we may be made pure so as to be able to steadfastly behold him as he is. (1 John 3.2)  At the beginning we desired vision, now we also require likeness, likeness to Christ’s resurrected glory in his eternal kingdom.  So these contemplations and petitions appropriately conclude Christmas and Epiphany and lead us on to Lent and Easter.

These collects, composed by Bishop Cosin of Durham for the Prayer Book revision of 1662, provide the transition from the knowledge of who Christ is to the following of him in what he does.  Epiphany shows us God in the flesh.  The Wise men offer incense to the divine child. In his temple the Divine Word astonishes the Doctors of the Law with his wisdom. Baptized, Jesus hears the heavenly Father proclaim him as his Son. The Kingdom of God which changes earthly things into things heavenly is manifestly present when Christ turns water into wine.  And his disciples learn to fear him, rather than what nature can do when Christ calms the stormy sea.  All these miracles serve to show that this man is God.  Their purpose is epiphany.  They are not magician’s entertainments; Jesus rebukes those who seek him for “signs and wonders.”  Nor are the results the healing, the fish, and the loaves to be sought after for their own sakes. Jesus condemns those who seek the meat which perishes when they might obtain instead the true bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. The miracles of Epiphany show us that Christ is God.  They also serve as witnesses against our unbelief until he appears before the whole creation as its divine judge:

Every eye shall then behold him
Robed in dreadful majesty.
We shall see him and know our filth in the face of his purity, and our misery in the light of his splendour.

His appearance and final epiphany would be our destruction if it were not for what God in Christ works in our flesh. In Lent and Passiontide, we come to know and co-operate in the work Jesus came to do. His Father works in creation and now the Son undertakes the redemption of its fallen members. Christ goes up to Jerusalem to undertake his great work upon the cross. He invites us to be coworkers with him, to take up our crosses and to follow him, to walk in his footsteps until we are “made like unto him in his eternal and glorious kingdom.” The last epiphany is the showing forth to and for all flesh of the resurrected Christ, the Christ of the Easter beyond death. Contemplating the appearance of Christ our resurrected judge draws us beyond Epiphany through Lent to Easter, through the works of repentance to the purity by which we may see our risen Lord “as he is.” We seek to move from following the pure light of a star, shining before us, to deeds of purification by which we are “pure even as he is pure.”

O send out thy light and thy truth that they may lead us and bring us unto thy holy hill and to thy dwelling and 
that we may go unto the Altar of God. (Psalm 43.3-4)
Today in this Holy Eucharist we are led from words to deeds as we do again what our Lord commanded us to do. We bless and break bread, we thank God and share a cup. We do this to make present for us, and in us, the death of Christ. We do this because we are determined to follow him even to the end. We do this because we want to do nothing except by the strength and character of his working in us. We do this so as to know his resurrection in ourselves, so as to be like him and to see him as he is in his eternal and glorious kingdom, where with thee O Father and thee O Holy Ghost he lives and reigns our God for ever and ever. Amen.