Monday, February 6, 2023

Italian Heritage Mass Celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany at St. Patrick Cathedral

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,” recounts St. Matthew in his Gospel writing (2:10, NAB) of the three Maji seeing the celestial event that led them east out of Persia towards Bethlehem. Upon seeing the child with his mother, Mary, they paid homage and opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Italian community celebrated its treasured heritage and richness of their faith in the Diocese of Harrisburg on the Feast of the Epiphany – the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah – on January 8 this new year at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg, where Bishop Ronald Gainer was the main celebrant at the Mass for which some 600 faithful attended. After Holy Mass, a reception was held in the community room of the Cathedral Parish, where volunteers of the Italian community prepared Italian delicacies, treats and drink for all. Father Joshua Brommer, rector of St. Patrick Cathedral and chaplain for the Diocesan Italian community, hosted the joyous and festive celebration.

“Like the Maji, we come here today with the understanding and humility that we do not know everything…. The Maji understood that they needed to know more and that is why they came to pay respects to Jesus – a tiny baby, a newborn king placed in a manger,” Bishop Ronald Gainer said in his homily. “We live in a culture of intellectual pride these days where we think we know everything – we do not know everything and we should have the humility to know that much.”

It was the “great star” that led the three wise men to find Christ. “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage,” the Maji (Matthew 2:1-2) said upon their arrival in Jerusalem, the land of Judea under the reign of King Herod. “When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled and all in Jerusalem with him…. Then Herod called the Maji secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the child. When you find him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.’” (2:4-7)

After seeing Christ, the Maji were told in a dream to not return to see King Herod, whose wish it was to kill the baby Jesus. The Maji, after humbly prostrating themselves before the manger, knew enough to return to their Orient home in a new way, understanding enough that this move would keep the newborn king alive.

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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