Holy Land, part Four
Day Two of our pilgrimage began with a visit to Tabgah, the site of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. This was a church that I didn’t expect when I thought of the Holy Land. I guess every site of importance in the Bible has some church or chapel on it. This site was very simple. The church was traditionally structured with a center nave and two side naves separated from the center by a row of columns. The first thing we noticed upon entering was some men working on restoring the mosaic floor. Each mosaic piece had to be carefully placed to reveal a sacred image placed there when the first church was built. The altar was fairly simple, but underneath was a stone that looked out of place. Our guide revealed that it is believed to be the very same rock that Jesus rested on as he performed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. I didn’t notice the rock at first because my eyes were focused on a mosaic image located on the floor just in front of the rock and altar. It was a familiar image to me because I was given a gift many years prior of a ceramic chalice and plate with the very same image painted on them, an image of a basket of bread with a fish on each side. I had never known that this was where that image originated. Now I have another memory of this wonderful pilgrimage. From Tabgah, we then boarded the bus for a short ride up a hill overlooking the Sea of Galillee to the place where Jesus gave his most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. At the top of the hill was a church dedicated to the first part of that great sermon, The Beatitudes. It was so easy to see why Jesus chose this place to begin his public teaching. The top of the hill gave way to a steep incline and then a small patch of level ground that looked like a step. It was there that the people sat and listened to the preaching of the Savior. The Sea of Galilee was a most beautiful backdrop for such an important Sermon. We left there and boarded the bus to a very famous town, now only remembered by ruins, the town of Capernaum. This was the center of Jesus ministry while he was in Galillee, and located there was the house of St. Peter. We celebrated Mass in a church built directly over the ruins of our Church’s first pope. A glass floor overlooked the house of St. Peter. I imagined the friends of the crippled man standing about the same place as we were as they lowered their friend through the roof to the feet of Jesus. It was a great reminder that we too, must look to every human being with the same dedication and love and those friends; we are called to bring all humanity to the healing hands of our Savior. As we left the church and Peter’s house, we walked only about fifty yards to another famous site in the ruins of Capernaum, the Synagogue where Jesus prayed and taught. Although it wasn’t the synagogue of his hometown where he said, “Today, this prophecy has been fulfilled,” I still imagined Jesus teaching the people about the Scriptures and the promise of Salvation. The visit to the town of the fisherman, would not be complete without a sample of the fish of the Sea of Galilee. At a nearby restaurant, we were given the option of a fillet or the entire fish, named after the Apostle Peter, “Peter’s Fish”. I chose the fillet, as I didn’t want to spend the meal removing the bones. It was a very flavorful fish, very similar in taste to our Rainbow trout.