I thought Jerusalem, with its complex history and many cultures, was intense and that when we went north to Galilee, the pace would be a bit more relaxed. Ha.
The area surrounding Galilee is full of stories that are illustrated by ruins and vistas that all call to be seen. There is no way to see everything in just a few days, and although we did manage to see an amazing number of sites, this is an area (along with Jerusalem) that we hope to return to some day for a little more in-depth sightseeing.
THE MOUNT OF BEATITUDES
On the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee three km from Capernaum is a spot where many believe Jesus delivered his most famous sermon, the Beatitudes. On our walk from the bus to the famous hill, we passed many reminders of the Sermon:
. . . and this caveat:
Two stone fish and five stone loaves of bread on a stone table remind visitors that after his sermon, Jesus fed 5,000 people with two small fish and five loaves of barley bread:
Inside, simple white walls reflect the monastic vows of austerity:
Eight very simple stained glass windows contain Latin versions of the Beatitudes:
|"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God"|
|"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"|
There is nothing simple about the mosaic flooring, except perhaps the muted colors:
|Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1877)|
The original is in Fredricksborg Castle in Denmark
The Sermon on the Bump doesn't sound quite right.
Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to go down to the water and see the mount from below.
TABGHA: THE CHURCH OF THE PRIMACY OF PETER
The following day we went to another important site during the ministry of Jesus. On our way we passed fields with irrigation pipes that reminded me a lot of the ones used in the area where I grew up:
On our way in, we saw some furry creatures on the roof of one of the buildings:
Bob got a good close-up photo:We saw these critters last year on the roofs of our lodges in the Serengeti in Tanzania:.
|They are quoted in the Bible? I'll have to look up what they had to say!|
The main entrance told us where we were. I had to look up "primacy" when we got home.
In other words, this is where Peter became the head of the Christian church.
As in all places in the Holy Land, a Church is built on THE spot where the event occurred:
The church is built around an outcropping of rock known as Mensa Christi, or "Christ's Table."last chapter of the Gospels. Seven of the apostles were out on the Sea of Galilee, having had an unsuccessful night of fishing, when a stranger on the shore called out to them and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. The haul was so huge that they couldn't get the net onto the boat and had to drag it behind them in the water. (Hmmm, sounds like a previous event discussed in Luke 5.) Peter, realizing who was on the shore, jumped out of the boat in his typical exuberant fashion and swam to shore to meet Jesus. Jesus had already started a charcoal fire to cook a breakfast of bread and fish for the men. After their breakfast, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Each time Peter responded in the affirmative, Jesus told Peter to "feed my lambs" or "feed my sheep." (I always wondered why Jesus asked the question three times, but I had an epiphany that the only other time a charcoal fire is mentioned in the Gospels is three chapters earlier in John 18 when Peter was warming himself at Caiaphas's palace and denied knowing Jesus three times. With the two parallels of fire and a three-time vow, the Gospel writer seems to be making a point that Peter was redeeming himself for his previous actions and was fully forgiven.)
I'm guessing that this fire-like stained glass must represent the fire Jesus built to cook the fish:
I can relate to this way of honoring important events much more than I can to the bling that is Bethlehem.
The beautiful bronze relief on the front doors shows Jesus and Peter in the top half and the two Popes who have visited this church on the bottom half:
The same doors seen from the inside:
The outline of a fish is scratched into the concrete at the base of the stairs:
As a side note, we had several meals at our hotels that included fish from the Sea of Galilee, known as "St. Peter's fish" (aka tilapia):
A good reminder:
Some of us didn't have water shoes and so tried wading in barefoot, but we quickly learned that it wasn't what we are used to in Southern California:
Underneath the horizontal branches of a tree that looks like it witnessed the original event, there is a modern-looking statue of Jesus delivering the charge to Peter to "feed my sheep."
It captures the moment when Jesus passes his shepherd's crook to Peter:
From Tabgha our bus took us to an overlook at the top of Mount Arbel. At 600 feet above sea level, I wouldn't call this a "Mount," but what do I know?
Michael told us that there are thousands of miles of hiking trails in Israel. There is even one 600-mile-long trail that winds its way from the Gulf of Aqaba in the south to Dan in the north, carefully skirting the West Bank settlements and the Golan Heights. National Geographic rates it as one of the world's best hikes. Michael also mentioned that Israel has a very sophisticated GPS system called Waze, and that everyone in Israel uses it. Google bought it for $1.2 billion two years ago. He said it includes traffic reports and makes navigation easy for foreigners, which makes me think maybe we would be okay on our own in a rental car on a return trip someday.
Mount Arbel is part of the "Jesus Trail," a 40-mile hiking trail in Galilee connecting important sites from the life of Jesus:
The summit was a good place for a history and geography lesson: