Tuesday, 23 April 2013
A few folk suggested I put the front page of last week's newsletter on here...
Do you have favourite places? Are there spots where something happened in your life, or that are just so overwhelmingly beautiful? I love the Canadian Rockies – and the view over Snowdonia from Beaumaris on Anglesey. Horsehoe Bay in Antigua as the sun set and sipped a pina colada – or Rhossili beach stretching away into the distance. I could go on… so could we all, I expect. And high on my list would be Tabgha, and the area around it, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Tabgha is the place where tradition says today’s Gospel happened. On a pebbly beach Jesus was cooking fish for breakfast. Into water such as Tabgha’s St Peter jumped, and a small chapel encloses some bare rock called the “Mensa Christi” or Table of Christ, where breakfast was perhaps served – by the Messiah. Over there, perhaps, Peter was asked by the Son of God whether he loved him – or not.
The Franciscans have built into the rock overlooking the Lake a Greek theatre style area for Mass. A tree, olive I think, overshadows the circular altar next to which a cat slept the last time I celebrated Mass there. A little further out a modern sculpture depicts Jesus raising Peter up from his knees. The whole setting is quite simply beautiful – altar, tree, statue, beach, lake. And after Mass you walk down to the little beach and paddle where Jesus paddled. Here the smell of a charcoal fire wafted over the rippling waters as Peter swam ashore, instantly taking him back, as only a smell can, to his three denials, also by a charcoal fire.
Here in this beautiful spot called Tabgha, creation held its breath, as it had some thirty years before not too far away up in Nazareth, where a young woman called Mary considered her answer to an Invitation. Here in Tabgha we wait again – with Jesus. He declared this fisherman to be the rock on which he will build his church, but the rock has crumbled into three denials. So now, in order to be sure, Jesus must wait for an answer to his question – the question – “Do you love me?”