From the St Andrew Daily Missal.
The Christmas cycle is like a magnificent drama in three acts, whose purpose is to show forth in three distinct ways, the Incarnation of the Word and the raising of human nature into union with God.
The first act of the cycle develops throughout the four weeks of Advent, when in types and prophetic sayings is shown forth to us the great dogma of a God made man.
In the second act, which, throughout Christmastide, includes all the mysteries of our Lord's childhood, we are made to see with our eyes and handle with our hands the Word of life which was with the Father and hath appeared to us, that we may have fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and that our joy may be full.
The third act which is unfolded during the time after Epiphany is an extension of Christmastide, in which our Lord's divinity continues to be affirmed. No longer, however, is there question of the angels of the Gloria in excelsis, nor the star, nor even the voice of the Father and the vision of the Holy Ghost as at our Lord's baptism: but now it is Christ Himself who acts and speaks as God. As we shall see in the Easter cycle, He is going to demand the submission of our hearts and minds to His doctrine and to the rule of conduct imposed by Him. As a preliminary, therefore, to this claim, there is need that His divine authority shall be revealed by His words and actions alike. The Gospels for the second, third and fourth Sundays after Epiphany are extracts from the series of miracles related by St. Matthew, and those for the fifth and sixth Sundays from the parables which the same evangelist records to prove that Jesus is the Messias. He commands sickness, the sea, the winds; He changes water into wine; He cures at a distance or by a simple gesture. Surely, then, He is God. Moreover, He speaks as only a God can speak.
This Time after Epiphany, therefore, together with the whole Chnsmas cycle, is the season specially consecrated to the epiphanies or to the manifestations of our Lord's divinity.
Christ's words are the direct and palpable expression of God's thoughts. "The things that I speak, even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak."
Like the sacred species, which, as containing the divinity, are the object of our adoration, so our Lord's teaching requires from us reverence and faith as being a portion of eternal truth. He who receives the sacred word negligently is no less guilty than he who lets the Body of the Son of God fall to the earth." (St Caesarius) What St. Paul said of the Eucharist: "He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself,"' our Lord said of His holy teaching: "He that recelveth not my words ... the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day," for to reject it is to reject the Word who under this form reveals Himself to us.
But not only has our Lord "spoken the truth"; to use His own strong expression He has "acted the truth." Having His Father's nature, not only has He also His doctrine but His omnipotence as well. "The Son cannot do anything of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing; for what things so ever He doth, these the Son also doth in like manner." Therefore, like His words, His miracles are a manifestation of His divinity. "The works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me." No man could speak and act like Jesus if He were not God. "If I had not come and spoken to them they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin." If I had not done among them the works which no other man had done, they would not have sin."
In these two passages is summed up the whole of the Time after Epiphany in relation to our Lord, and it is in the Epistles, which are extracts from those of St. Paul to the Romans, a summary in relation to ourselves, that we must seek the spirit of this same season. Not only does almighty God, ever faithful to His promises, summon the Jews to enter His kingdom, but in the fulness of His mercy, He calls all the Gentiles to share in it; so that having become, in our turn, members of the mystical Body of Christ, we must love one another, as brethren in Him, and submit ourselves in all humility to the Son of God who is our King.