Today’s journey began boarding a boat “for the other side” for an hour on the Sea of Galilee.
We were headed to Capernaum, although by today’s standards it may have been faster to drive. Being in this place will forever sear in my mind the surroundings of the Sermon on the Mount. From this one point on the Sea of Galilee, you can see “a city on the hill” as well as the region of the Gadarenes and Capernaum where our Lord lived with his disciples. For us it was only one hour boat ride, and the captain even cast his net (you can see that on the live stream) as we contemplated the disciples sailing across the water. They encountered a storm, but it was smooth sailing for us.
Once we arrived in Capernaum, we visited the Church of the Holy Apostles where I prayed for those whose names I had received, and then off to the ruins of Capernaum. The Orthodox Church of the Holy Apostles is just outside the walls (now a large fence) of the ruins. So, about ruins….they are all starting to look the same. I hate to admit it, but if you don’t know what you’re looking at, ruins are ruins. In this case we visited the site of the home of Saint Peter’s mother-in-law, where Christ healed the paralytic. There’s no roof now! On the foundations of the old house, you can see the foundations of the Byzantine Church. On the foundations of the Byzantine Church were the foundations of the Crusader Church. Hanging above them (you can see from the photo) is the modern Roman Catholic Church. Inside the modern Church, you can look down through glass to see the layers of history. “Across town” was the Synagogue, again with the original foundations from Christ’s time and the fourth century ruins above.
From Capernaum we traveled to the city of Magdala (where Mary Magdalene lived) and saw ruins discovered very recently during the construction of a hotel in the early 2000’s. We know Christ taught in this synagogue, and in this case some of the ACTUAL STONES are still in their place on the floor. It’s funny though. I’m so accustomed to larger churches and synagogues that I have visited, the synagogue in this city could only fit about 30-50 men inside at once, much smaller than the synagogue in Capernaum.
Another short drive to the what is believed to be the location of the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. A new modern Roman Catholic Church has been reconstructed on the site of the original with many original mosaics still present. The alabaster windows are fantastic.
After lunch we visited the Monastery of the Holy Apostles in Tiberias, where I again offered prayers for those names I had received, and then we headed to the Mountain of the Beatitudes. Admittedly, nobody knows where the Sermon on the Mount actually took place, but this Roman Catholic Church was erected to commemorate the event. All the surrounding hills speak of Christ’s teachings and inspiration to a better life, which could explain the peaceful atmosphere in and around the Church.
I’m enjoying the time our group is spending together. We are growing closer together, through God’s grace and His love for our journey. For that, I am thankful.