GALILEE - On January 29th, 2023, His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, presided over a Mass for the Feast of the Beatitudes, atop of the Mount of the same name.
Canceled last year because of the pandemic of COVID-19, the celebration yesterday saw many Christians from all over the Galilee region gather around the church of the Beatitudes to attend the Mass, just like 2,000 years ago when people crowded around Jesus Christ to listen to the Sermon on the Mount. Among them was notably the ambassador of Italy, Mr. Sergio Barbanti, appointed to this position in October 2021.
Celebrated every year on the last Sunday of January, and born out of an initiative of the Churches of the Holy Land to bring people closer to the Holy Places, the Mass, which was concelebrated by Mgr Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Mgr Moussa El-Hage, Maronite Archbishop of Haifa and the Holy Land, as well as Fr. Maksymilian Nawara, osb, abbot president of the Annunciation Benedictine congregation, and Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus, was also attended by seminarians and priests from the Domus Galilaeae seminary of Redemptoris Mater, as well as many different congregations, including of course the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in charge of the church of the Beatitudes, and who sang during the Mass.
During his homily, the Patriarch spoke how, with human eyes alone, one could not comprehend the passage of the Gospel known as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12). “Only through and with Jesus can we truly understand the Beatitudes,” he said. Referring to the beginning of each verse, which open with Blessed are…, he added, “As humans, especially now, and especially here in the Holy Land, this passage seems very far away for us. Today, it is easier for us to curse than to bless! Yet the Beatitudes are not just passage about the meek and those who turn the other cheek, but about people whose realities are centered on the others instead of themselves. […] So let us pray for the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, in order to be true and living Christians here in the Holy Land, and to become a blessing to all those we meet in our life.”