Day 3 of the Catholic Digest Holy Land Pilgrimage with Steve and Janet Ray from the Footprints of God pilgrimages.
Today was truly a grace filled day! In the morning we traveled to the location of the Sermon on the Mount. Father Frans Berkhout said mass from an outside altar that overlooked the Sea of Galilee.
As Fr. Berkhout read the Beatitudes from Matthew’s Gospel, we could envision the crowds who gathered on that same hill to listen to the teachings of Jesus. Fr. Berkhout reminded us that the world will look at Christian values and think that we are crazy, but we know what will bring true happiness. Jesus challenges us to follow the path to everlasting life. He not only teaches the Beatitudes, he is the Beatitudes and we must choose to follow him.
After mass the pilgrims had an opportunity to visit the main church that had Eucharistic adoration and walk around the lush gardens on the Mount of the Beatitudes. Around the paths of the gardens there were plaques of the Beatitudes. I reflected on each one and felt such peace at this truly beautiful site.
Next we boarded the bus to Cana at Galilee, the place where Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast. On the way to Cana, our local guide, Amer, gave us a sense of what weddings are like in his culture. He shared the story of his daughter’s wedding and explained that wedding celebrations last all week. Amer told us that he has 52 first cousins, just in his home town! He hosted 800 people the week before his daughter’s wedding celebration — now we can understand why, during Jesus’ time, they ran out of wine!
But we know what happens next. Mary quietly tells Jesus that they have no more wine. Jesus responded, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2: 4-5). Fr. Berkhout points out that theologically it doesn’t makes sense for Mary to tell God what to do, but anthropologically (human sense), it makes perfect sense for a mother to tell her son what to do. It is important to reflect on the reality that Jesus is fully God and fully man. So as a good son, Jesus obeyed what his mother was asking him to do and reveals his divinity through this first miracle.
Couples on the pilgrimage had the opportunity to renew their wedding vows in the same spot where Jesus performed this miracle. There were many couples on the trip that were celebrating milestone anniversaries. Inside the Wedding Church in Cana quite a few tears were shed as couples exchanged their vows. As I witnessed these couples exchange their vows, I prayed for happy and holy marriages for each of them (and all married couples).
Next we traveled to Nazareth to the Basilica of the Annunciation. Pilgrims had the opportunity to pray the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary in front of the spot where the angel Gabriel greeted Mary and announced the birth of our Lord. On the altar on that spot is an inscription in Latin: Verbum Caro Hic Factum Est, which means The Word became Flesh HERE!
Steve Ray reminds pilgrims that if we were here 2000 years ago, we would have seen the angel at the foot of the cave.
Next we went a short distance to the Church of St. Joseph. This church was built above the cave where the Holy Family lived. As we walked down to the lower part of the church to glance down at the cave, Steve Ray gave a description of a day in the life of the Holy Family. One detail that really struck me was when Steve asked: “when Jesus and Joseph were walking on their way to work, what did they talk about on the way?” What a beautiful image to meditate on!
After a full day of visiting holy sites, we feasted at the Auberge Shulamit Restaurant for a magnificent dinner.
On the bus Steve Ray reads messages from families and friends at home. If you would like to leave a message for someone that you know on the pilgrimage, you can watch the video highlights from today and leave your message in the comments. Click here to watch the video and leave your comments.