Friday, February 12, 2016

Galilee

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali ... (Matthew 4:12-13)
Sea of Galilee
In the New Testament the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias, is the water around which Jesus spent most of his time preaching and recruiting his disciples. In Hebrew the lake is named Sea of Kinneret serving as Israel's most important drinking water reservoir. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him ... (Matthew 4:18-20)
Eating St. Peter's fish at the pilgrim's house at Tabgha
In Capernaum Jesus stayed in Petrus's house.
On stilts: St. Peter's Church was built like a dome above the ruins of  Peter's house
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home (to Peter's house). They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:1-5)
Jesus healing the paralyzed man is one of the biblical scenes in Galilee and illustrated in the Capernaum church
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:23-25)
The ruins of the Capernaum synagogue from the third century
Later Jesus made Peter his successor: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church. (Matthew 16:18)
Statue of St. Peter:Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram  Aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, Et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam.
The bible stories of Jesus and the Sea of Galilee are the most impressive and so a trip on a boat was an absolute must. On the photo the water level of the lake is at -211.77 meters carefully controlled by Israeli authorities. The lake presents one quarter of the Israeli drinking water reserve.
 
For Americans and Italians that left on the King David before our group the captain had hoisted their national flags.
When our group boarded the ship there were gusty winds. The ladies had problems with their long hair and some even felt a shiver.
 
While watching the growing waves one of the Lake Gennesaret stories came to my mind:
Then Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:23-26) Luckily our waves did not sweep overboard. Another biblical site above the Sea of Galilee is the place where Jesus held his Sermon on the Mount. The Church of the Beatitudes located near Tabgha commemorates the event.
Church of the Beatitudes
 
Jesus preaching the beatitudes
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12)
You can sing it in Latin
 
"Milestones" in the vast gardens around the church
On our way back down the hill we had spectacular views on the Sea of Galilee.
Suddenly we stopped at a landmark but only at home when carefully looking at the photo I understood: It was the place where Jesus had sent out his disciples. The stone was marked: Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit). (Matthew 28:19)
Her comes another Gennesaret story: Jesus withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13)

And here I turn around to the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish and the pomegranate-juice vendor I had met near the Church of the Multiplication. It was the blog with which I started the series about my trip to Israel last November. Note that I am not finished yet because I still would like to report about the Jewish Jerusalem, a visit to Yad Vashem, excursions to Massada and the Golan Heights, and, during the Passion Week, about the Via Dolorosa. So stay tuned.

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