The word “epiphany,” which means a shining forth of light, has slipped from its religious use into secular usage to indicate any sudden flash of insight. First used in this sense by the writer James Joyce, the term has degenerated to the point where “Epiphany” is even the name for an integrated suite of customer relations management software. Presumably using this software will give on striking new insights into how to manage one’s customer relations.
The distinction between the secular usage of the term “epiphany” and what we celebrate on this feast can be seen in the fact that we do not celebrate a flash of insight, but the shining forth of God’s light in our world through the person of Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI wrote that to be a Christian isn’t merely an ethical choice or a noble idea, but the encounter with an event, a person who gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction. The Epiphany is not about an idea occurring to us but about an encounter with a person: Jesus Christ.
According to tradition, St. Thomas traveled East after Jesus’ Resurrection and encountered the three wise men. They were then baptized by St. Thomas.