An interesting note today…breakfast in Tiberius, at a Kosher hotel, reminds us that much of the nation of Israel is Jewish. According to Kosher Law, meat and dairy cannot be cooked or eaten together. So for breakfast, we can find an amazing assortment of dairy products including cheeses, yogurts and puddings. And then at dinner it is the opposite, where we found no dairy but a huge assortment of meats. Foods that are neither meat or dairy are called pareve. Common pareve foods include eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables and grains, and can be served with either meat or dairy. We are eating Kosher!
We began the day with a boat ride out on the Sea of Galilee. The boat was larger than a fishing boat that the disciples would have sailed on, and it also had a motor, but it took us out into the water that Jesus walked upon...The same place where Jesus and the disciples spent time together. Since our group was so large, we were split into two boats. Out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, we stopped and tied the boats together. After a while the engines were turned off and you could hear the water gently lapping on the sides of the boat. Here we listened to the reading of the Gospel of John when Jesus calmed the storm. We were looking at the same mountains and scenery that Jesus saw from his boat. After the readings, a crew member demonstrated how the fishermen would throw their nets in the water. We didn't have any luck catching fish, but the crew taught everyone how to dance to Hava Nagila and we all gave it a try!
After dancing, the crew untied the two boats, and we continued our journey across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, where Jesus began his Galilean ministry. There are ruins of the synagogue there where Jesus healed the servant of the Centurion (Lk 7:3), was confronted by the demoniac (Mk 1:21-27), and gave the bread of life discourse (Jn 6:35-59).
Jesus stayed at the house of Peter. These ruins are easy to identify because as early as the second century, shortly after the time of Christ, Christians began to worship there and marked the wall of the room in which Jesus stayed with Christian symbols, including the Cross. It is the only spot in the town with those symbols. The first church was built there in the 4th century, and a Byzantine church was built around that in the 5th century. Today the Franciscans have built St. Peter's Memorial Church made out of glass so that you can look through the floor to see the house of Peter and the room where Jesus stayed. Here we celebrated Mass. Father John Harth gave the homily about praying for patience.
We continued on to Tabgha, site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. A new church of the Benedictines has been built here to the same specifications as the one built in 450. It was built so that the altar was above the rock that became known as the "Dining Table of Christ" from which he fed the crowd. Much of the floor is the original 5th century mosaic. In front of the altar is one of the most famous mosaics in the world: the "Loaves and Fishes," which is over 1500 years old.
We enjoyed lunch today at the Tanureen restaurant, where most of the pilgrims tried St. Peter's Fish. Also known as tilapia, it is common in the Sea of Galilee and most likely the kind of fish that the disciples would have caught in their nets. After lunch we headed to the Mount of Beatitudes. It is easy to see why Jesus would have chosen this place to pray and teach. The land was lush and green and sitting on the side of a mountain, there was a beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee and the mountainous landscape above it. The Church of the Beatitudes is located here, and was built with eight sides, one for each of the beatitudes.
We then made our way down to the seashore, to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. This is the spot where Jesus appeared to Peter, James, John, and four other disciples after the Resurrection. Not knowing what to do now that Jesus was gone, several of the disciples returned to what they knew: fishing. They had not caught any fish that morning, and Jesus from the seashore told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Immediately, the nets were filled. Recognizing that this was Jesus, Simon Peter jumps in the water and swims to meet him. Jesus makes them all breakfast. Afterwards, Jesus calls Peter aside and asks him 3 times if he loves him. Peter replies 3 times "Lord, you know I love you." Then Jesus asks him to feed his sheep and lay down his life as he did.
There is a rock called the "Mensa Christi," inside the Church of the Primacy which early Christians believed was where Jesus laid out the breakfast he made for the disciples that morning on the seashore. In the garden outside the church is an altar that reads, "Here, Jesus entrusted to Peter the Primacy of Love."
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