The Importance of the Epiphany
Reinhart Koehler shares Epiphany message with the NPH family, remembering the significance and importance of the tradition.
January 6, 2020 - NPH International
I remember vividly my first Christmas at NPH Mexico in 1982. Leading up to the 24th of December, the children in posadas processions re-enacted the journey of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem. On Christmas Eve, the Baby Jesus would appear under the Christmas tree, celebrated with mass and Christmas songs.
Following Biblical script and Latin American tradition, no gifts were exchanged until January 6, the day of Epiphany that we celebrate today—the day the Three Kings visited Baby Jesus and brought him gifts. In Honduras, an element is added to the Christmas celebration where children will not receive gifts but will “estrenar,” meaning that they will receive a new set of clothes to wear on Christmas Eve to look their best when receiving Baby Jesus.
I love this tradition as it allows us to focus on the importance of the birth of Jesus on December 24, God’s gift to us, and on January 6 to honor the tradition of exchanging gifts to express our love and appreciation for each other.
Over time through media and strong cultural influences, gift giving on Christmas Day has become more common in Latin America and also in NPH Homes. However, the principle behind gift giving, which is sharing, is one of the main values of Fr. Wasson’s philosophy. It is practiced at NPH throughout the year. Even after 38 years with NPH I am continually amazed how ingrained sharing is in the children’s behavior. To begin with, they really do not have a lot of possessions, but whatever they have they love to share with others. And sharing extends beyond the material realm, through helping each other, listening to each other, and offering gestures of encouragement.
Of course, our children also know that the NPH Family exists thanks to the gifts of a large community of benefactors who generously support the NPH Family. And Epiphany, of course, more than gift giving, is about making Jesus the center of our world, to adore him and open our hearts to him. Through your contributions, you become one of the Three Kings to our children and you honor God by helping those in need.
President of NPH International