After a great sleep, we are ready to go. First stop is the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave the sermon on the Mount. Our reader reads the relevant bible passages as we stand in front of the church built here. It is a stunning sensation to be in this sacred place filled with flowers and singing birds.
Then we stop at another church marking the spot where Jesus feeds the 5000 with 5 loaves and 3 fishes. Then we cruise the Sea of Galilee on a pilgrim boat. We celebrate Mass on board. Then we sing a bit and dance – the Havn Aguila! It is an amazing time. Everyone is smiling in the moment!
Lunch at the Fish Restaurant in Tiberias, the great Roman city King Herod Antipas built in 18 CE. A relatively large modern city now on a hill by the Sea of Galilee. The fish was great – whole white fish, sweet and rich taste. On the way in we run into Fr Tap Kurudeepan, OMI from North Vancouver with another group. Small world.
A note about the currency – New Israeli Shekels - 2.8 to the $CDN. Because of the large tourist trade here the US$ is accepted everywhere. We prefer to use the NIS out of principle. Gasoline is priced here at 6.48 NIS, about $2.30CDN/litre.
We drive by orchards of olive trees, orange and pomegranate, bananas and grapes. This is where the fruit and oil comes from that we have on our table at breakfast, lunch and dinne here. How great is this? Everything is open air here. There are no bugs or flies.
As we enter and leave these holy places, we see the Face of God in those entering or leaving. There are Asians, Africans, Europeans and Americans. Many are darker in colour. We are all seeking the same Savior!
A note about the tone of this pilgrimage. There is much laughter and singing. Everyone is having a great time. It is not in any way austere or rigid. It is like a family holiday with the extended family. We are silent when we listen to the Gospel and Sammy our tour guide speaks to us. Then the chatter starts up again. Some are on their first trip here like us, others are on their 4th or 5th.
After lunch we go to a church on the banks of the Sea of Galilee at a place called Tabgha. A plaque at the door says Pope JPII was here with Cardinal Dziwitz, who we had met at his residence in Krakow when we were in Poland in 2015. We wander down to the Sea of Galilee and some wade in.
Then the highlight of the day – Capernaum – the town Jesus went to after leaving Nazareth. The foundation of the synagogue he preached in is here. A 4th century Roman church is built on top and we tour the ruins of it. Surrounding it are the excavated stone walls of many houses. We can see the entrance and the individual rooms in each. The house of Peter is also excavated here and now partially covered over with an octanganal shaped church. Jesus was resurrected on the 8th day we learn and that is the significance of the 8 sides.
We wander down to the Sea of Galilee at sunset on a calm afternoon. The birds are singing. Wow, what a spiritual day!