Today was supposed to start with a nice run along the roadside as the sun rose over Galilee. So, after taking full advantage of the snooze feature on the alarm, I rose just in time for breakfast. So it goes.
We started the day off with a nice, leisurely boat ride across to the other side of the lake. I say leisurely, in that at one point a large white bird flew parallel to our boat...and soundly beat us to shore. But it was well worth the time together as a group, and once we arrived at the other side we got to examine a preserved wooden boat which was discovered along the shore line. This boat has been dated to the time of Christ, the 1st century AD.
We then hit up Nazareth, a church built atop a grotto which is one possible location of Mary's home. I was surprised to learn that a number of other caves/grottoes were also discovered nearby, which lends further credence to the location as at least in the proximity of the genuine house. The cave itself was on the lower level, then we headed upstairs where a Catholic mass was just beginning.
So we were able to take part in the introductory hymns.
Tabgha was next on the agenda, which is on the same site as a 4th c. AD Byzantine church. Contained within this church is a famous mosaic which depicts the basket with four loaves and two fish laid out beside them. In contrast to some of the other sites we have visited, the church here was very well suited to quiet contemplation. The church inside was simple and tastefully decorated, and the relative lack of tourist craziness actually led to some good quiet reflection within.
A short distance away was the Church of Peter's Primacy, which commemorates the scene after Jesus' resurrection where he calls to the disciples from shore and cooks them some fish, then asking Peter three times about the nature of his love for Him (John ch. 21). Again, a very simple church, and the location right on a rocky bay on the N shore of the Sea of Galilee was unparalleled.
We then proceeded up to Capernaum, where Jesus spent a large amount of time during His ministry. At this site we saw another well-preserved synagogue dating from around the 2nd c.
Finally, we stopped at the Mount of the Beatitudes, which commemorates a possible spot where Jesus delivered his Beatitudes in Matthew ch. 5-7. Though I sometimes tire of countless tour groups competing for the same sites, I was very inspired to share this site with Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, Israeli, and other groups of people as I sat contemplating on the hillside.
All in all, this might have been one of my favourite days of the class. We were able to hit so many tasteful commemorations of important places and events in Jesus' life!
Off to watch the sunset on our last day at Galilee...
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