Monday, 9 June 2014

And so to Galilee

First - happy feast day of Pentecost to everybody for yesterday!  Second, Sister Cristina went on to win The Voice Italy on Thursday...
But now back to the Holy Land. After arriving on Monday, by Saturday it was now time to leave Jerusalem for Galilee. As with each time I leave the city, I wondered if I would ever be back. Who knows?..  Jerusalem is hustle and bustle, a city modern and ancient, Jewish, Moslem and Christian - everything and everybody all wrapped up into one, with the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus embedded at its centre. Galilee, on the other hand, is calm, soothing, beautiful and largely rural.
We set off along the vastly improved modern highway system, north out of Judaea, dropping down to the coastal plain and then turning north towards Nazareth. Eventually there it was rising up on its hilltop, and soon we could see the huge modern basilica of the Annunciation rising up from among the bustling town centre (left). We were expecting to celebrate Mass in the church of St Joseph in the grounds, but when we were in the Basilica, a friar told us that the main altar in the big church was available, so we had Mass there instead. Our group gathered around the altar and many other people took part from further down in the church. We thought about Mary and Joseph, and how Mary heard the Word and made herself available to the Holy Spirit, so that the Word would become flesh. We too are to listen to the Word and put flesh on it through our lives.
After Mass we strolled over to St Joseph's and found a new statue of St Joseph in a garden that I found very inspiring (not very good pic right). Then after another lovely lunch all together, we moved on towards our destination Tiberias, via Cana, of wedding feast fame. Usually we have a time of prayer here, remembering deceased husbands and wives, or those we have left at home; we pray for the separated or divorced; we recall other vocations too - single life, including those in vows or or holy orders.  Those who are on pilgrimage as a couple have the opportunity to renew their vows. When we got to the church there was an extravagant, beautiful and moving Ethiopian marriage going on, with much music, dancing and devotion. Our group loved it - a real blessing and gift. We still had our prayers, though out in a corner of the forecourt instead, but it was still a lovely moment on our journey, when we each considered how we have answered the call of the Lord.
Eventually we pulled into Tiberias on the wonderful Sea of Galilee, where we would be based for a several more days. I found my room, opened my window onto the lake and thanked God for being able to return to one of my favourite places on earth.
(Pic is someone's Google Earth off-season shot from our hotel)

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