After finally laying supine in a real bed overnight, the pilgrims awoke and straggled down to breakfast in small groups. Some even had the energy to hit the gym when it opened at 6:30am. After we remembered how to count to 30 again, the bus departed our Nazareth hotel for the sea of Galilee, where we boarded our boat. It was a gloriously beautiful, warm, sunny day, and the water was as calm as could be.
The boat captains turned off the motors in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, and in with the locations of so much of Jesus’ ministry visible at the shoreline that surrounded us, we sang “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore,” to begin our celebration of Eucharist together on the boat.
We did some imaginative meditation, reflecting on two of the stories of Jesus life connected with our location: the storm at Sea from Matthew 8 and Peter’s walking on water in Matthew 14. At the conclusion of our Eucharist, the boat crew cranked up the speakers that played a rhythmic gospel recording of “O Happy Day,” and there was dancing and rejoicing amongst the group exchanging the Peace.
Once we returned to shore, Rimon arranged for the group to visit the museum that houses a first century boat that was discovered, preserved, and relocated in a beautiful indoor display. While there is no evidence that this was the boat that Jesus and the disciples used, carbon dating proves that it was the type and size of fishing boat that was used at that time.
The next stop was at Tabgha, where there is a Franciscan Church that commemorates the spot of the miraculous feeding of the multitudes by Jesus. Rimon gave some fascinating history about the church, which preserves some beautiful early Christian church mosaic tiles in the floor. We had some time for some quiet reflection and prayer here before we moved on.
After Tabgha, we moved on to a delicious lunch at the YMCA youth hostel, which is the place Fr. Marty has stayed in before “back in the day.” There is now a wonderful patio restaurant added that overlooks the Sea of Galilee, and with the windows open on this gorgeous day, the group feasted on local vegetables and dips with pita bread before the main course. Most had the local specialty — St. Peter’s fish. Fresh dates were served for dessert, and we had a good laugh when it was said to Chris Pedic, “Wait till we tell husband Tony that you had a juicy date on the pilgrimage…”
The post-lunch stop was at the Mountain of the Beatitudes, where the group was given time to explore the Basilica church and the surrounding gardens and area. The private time for walking and meditating was welcomed by all, and then we moved on to the Church of Peter’s Primacy. This is the spot historically connected with the stories of Jesus saying to Peter, “on this rock I will build my church.”
It is also traditionally associated with the resurrection appearance of Jesus at the end of John’s Gospel, where the three-fold denial of Peter is replaced with the three-fold affirmation of “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
Next, we moved on to the town of Capernaum, where we centered on the events recorded in Mark 2, where Jesus preaches in the Jewish synagogue, and then goes the short distance to the house of Peter, where he cures Peter’s mother-in-law.
The last stop of the day was a beautiful short walk on a nature travel to view the caves in the mountainside that are the beginning of the “Jesus Walk” to Cana. It was in one of these caves that lived Simon the Zealot, whom Jesus called to be one of the disciples.
Traffic near Nazareth was blocked, so we moved back our social hour and dinner a bit. After a wonderful buffet together, everyone went back to their rooms to retire and reflect on the incredible day together in Galilee.