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Catechism of the Catholic Church

The mysteries of Jesus' infancy

527 Jesus' circumcision, on the eighth day after his birth, 209 is the sign of his incorporation into Abraham's descendants, into the people of the covenant. It is the sign of his submission to the Law 210 and his deputation to Israel's worship, in which he will participate throughout his life. This sign prefigures that "circumcision of Christ" which is Baptism. 211

528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. 212 In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. 213 Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. 214 The Epiphany shows that "the full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs", and acquires Israelitica dignitas 215 (is made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").

529 The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. 216 With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Saviour-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples".

530 The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents 217 make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." 218 Christ's whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with him. 219 Jesus' departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God's people. 220

Notes:

209 Cf. Lk 2:21.

210 Cf. Gal 4:4.

211 Cf. Col 2:11-13.

212 Mt 2:1; cf. LH, Epiphany, Evening Prayer II, Antiphon at the Canticle of Mary.

213 Cf Mt 2:2; Num 24:17-19; Rev 22:16.

214 Cf Jn 4:22; Mt 2:4-6.

215 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 3 in epiphania Domini 1-3, 5: PL 54, 242; LH, Epiphany, OR; Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 26, Prayer after the third reading.

216 Cf. Lk 2:22-39; Ex 13:2, 12-13.

217 Cf. Mt 2:13-18.

218 Jn 1:11.

219 Cf. Jn 15:20.

220 Cf. Mt 2:15; Hos 11:1.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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