Friday, 20 June 2014

Around and on the lake

The beautiful Sea of Galilee - it forms the background to so much of Jesus's ministry. On our first full day in Tiberias we set off for Capernaum, Our Lord's base for his ministry, home to several apostles (artist's impression of the town in the time of Jesus, left). The ruins have been well excavated, and here and there reconstructed as in the Synagogue. A new church has been constructed over the supposed House of Peter, and since my last visit the whole place has been tidied up with a lovely esplanade overlooking the lake. 
Next we made the short journey to the spot known as Mensa Christi - the Table of Christ. This has been a favourite of our pilgrims - and mine too - since our first visit in 1992. Tradition places here the meeting of Jesus and his Apostles on the beach after the Resurrection. We have come to call this the "Breakfast on the Beach" incident in our churches... The Franciscans, faced with just a small stone church previously, built an out door Greek-style theatre for Mass, facing the lake through the foreground of a spreading tree and a beautiful statue of Our Lord with St Peter (below). What a memorable spot! Here we remember how Peter heard the forgiving and restoring word of the Lord, and so we pray for his successor, Francis, and for the whole Church. As always, Mensa Christi worked its magic and we left with a beautiful and powerful memory.

We now travelled further around the lake to its eastern shore, under the Golan Heights, to the area of Kursi, scene of the famous incident of the Gaderene Swine. An ancient church has been excavated here, and after a visit there, when my poor old toe took some punishment on knobbly cobbles, we repaired to the nearby kibbutz for some traditional St Peter's Fish. Suitably nourished, we embarked on the boat that would return us to our hotel in Tiberias. This trip on the lake is also always memorable, with thoughts of all those moments in the Gospel that take place on the waters. As usual, the captain obliges by turning off the engine and for some minutes we find ourselves afloat on the Sea of Galilee. We remember how the Lord calmed the waves, and of course another Peter incident, when the fisherman walked on the water, and was grabbed by Jesus. We too can walk on the waters of life, and as long as we keep our gaze on Him, the storms will not sink us. Even if we do go down, we can call out to him who held Peter - and he will hold us too.. 

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