Hello friends . . . grace and peace,
After breakfast at the guest house in Nazareth, we left for the day’s adventures at 7:30 a.m., heading northeast toward the Sea of Galilee. The route took us through Cana and, of course, there was a First Miracle wine shop on the main street.
Our first stop was at the shore of the sea, where we visited the city of Magdala, which is where Mary Magdalene was from. Fr. Kamal Farah, our teacher, brought us to a center and chapel focused on the contributions of women in the Body of Christ. All the women in our group gathered for a photo. Near the center was the evidence of excavation of a 1st century synagogue. It was first discovered only nine years ago.
We turned north along the west coast of the sea to a hill called the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus is believed to have delivered his Sermon on the Mount. We read the beatitudes at a small park there and Fr. Kamal provided us with a beautiful insight into Jesus’ longest recorded teaching. Kamal talked about the salt of the earth reference that is a metaphor for taste, preservation, and health. Then he said the light of the world metaphor tells us that, just as in a thunder storm, the light comes first, then the sound. He used the example of lightning being seen before the noise of thunder, pointing out that many humans fail to wait for the light (knowledge) before speaking.
The next stop up the coast was at Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. It was also the fourth appearance of Jesus after the crucifixion.
This is also the site where, 3 months ago, the church was badly damaged by religious extremists (aka terrorists). The group of 16 Israeli Jewish students responsible were arrested, but then released.
Then to Capernaum, the city at the northwest corner of the sea where Jesus chose to do a lot of his public ministry. It is located close to the village of Bethsaida where apostles Peter, Andrew, James and John were from, and where he healed the slave of a Roman centurion. Ruins of the synagogue where Jesus preached were first discovered in 1866. Also found were the ruins of Peter’s house.
We had a late lunch south of Capernaum in a seaside restaurant, most of us eating the fried tilapia that was served with head and all.
The sea had been pretty choppy in the morning so our guide, Bishara, made arrangements for us to go out on the sea is a wooden boat that afternoon when things had calmed. This is where Jesus walked to his disciples on water, and where he told them what side of the boat to fish. Fr. Ralph read the scripture passage (Matthew 8:22-33) and we all sat in meditative silence for several minutes.
It was time to return to Nazareth but the usual 45-minute journey took almost two hours because of the Nazareth traffic. Friday will be spent at Caesarea Philippi near the northern border where we’ll see the Jordan River springs, visit the Golan Heights and, finally, go to Mount Tabor, site of the Transfiguration, before returning to Nazareth for one more night.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” – Psalm 122:6