Day 8

Our last day of pilgrimage was packed full of sites. We went to the Mount of the Beatitudes, Caesarea Philippi and Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration took place. The Mount of the Beatitudes overlooks Capernaum and the Sea of Galilee. It is truly a beautiful spot overlooking the surrounding countryside. It is not hard to imagine hoards of people gathered around Jesus and listening to His words.

 

Caesarea Philippi is also beautiful spot, and one can see why Herrod and the Roman rulers built pagan shrines there upon a massive rock outcropping. It has a spring that generates a large flow of crystal clear water that supports trees that provide shade and add to the natural beauty. It actually reminded me a little bit of Alabama, home of EWTN. But it was here that Jesus named Simon as the rock upon which He would build His Church. This is recorded in Matthew 16, which tells us that He is at Caesarea Philippi.

 

While the pagan religions found a big rock in a beautiful place on which to build their shrines to false gods, Jesus showed us that true worship will be guided by His Church. A piece of that big rock is on my desk as I type this, and I hope that it reminds me of the great gift that the papacy is for us.

 

The Holy Land is painful reminder of the disunity among world religions and even among Christian religions. Peter is the source of unity for us. Without the office of the papacy, we would fall into error and dissension. Jesus has not left us orphans to find our own way. He has given us shepherds to teach us, guide us, and lead us in offering right worship to God.

 

Mount Tabor offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside. At 1,800 feet high, it is a serious mountain. The Lord must have really wanted to get away for awhile. The mountain stands by itself above the plain. It does not belong to a ridge or mountain chain, and one could completely walk around the base. Its isolation fits the noble purpose the Lord had in mind for it. It would have been nice to stay up there, as Peter suggested.

Day 8 - Photos

Br. Pio and Fr. Mark taping Steve Ray at Caesarea Philippi.
The rock at Caesarea Philippi where Jesus proclaimed Peter the rock upon which He would build His Church.
Fr. Mark walking to the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor
A view from atop Mt. Tabor.
Holy Mass on Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration took place.
Close up of some mosaics in the Church of the Transfiguration.
Close up of some mosaics in the Church of the Transfiguration.
Close up of some mosaics in the Church of the Transfiguration.
A view of where the crowd gathered for the Sermon on the Mount.
A view of the hills surrounding the Sermon on Mount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Final Holy Land Blog
By Father Mark Mary
Oftentimes, I think the challenge for us is to see how Jesus connects with our daily lives. On my recent trip to the Holy Land, I was impressed to see how simply Christ lived, how humble the towns were in which He preached and performed miracles, and how the events of His passion, death and resurrection were real and overlooked by the world.
I was able to see how what we read in the Scriptures about Jesus’ life is really true: the fishing boats in Galilee, the desert where He was tempted, the community at Qumran which influenced some of His disciples, the tomb, the upper room, the Garden of Gethsemane, the temple, and so on. The danger is that all this becomes remote to us and unreal.
As Mother Angelica has said, we want a Styrofoam cross and a different life situation so that “I can become holy.” But this flight from reality is also a flight from Jesus because He meets us in the reality of our lives. We can be tempted to think that Jesus could come into our lives if they were somehow different; that if our lives were somehow “better” than Jesus could really be “at work” in our lives; that if we had a different family, or if our situations were somehow different, or if we didn’t have these particular struggles and difficulties, or if we had some other work to perform for the Lord than God could really use us.
Jesus lived a simple, humble life in Palestine 2,000 years ago. Our redemption didn’t depend on the passing glory of this world. For us, it means we do not have to first measure up in some way for Jesus to come into our lives. The Holy Family redeemed family life by living and working in the obscure village of Nazareth, which is not even mentioned in the Old Testament. In fact, upon hearing about Jesus the Messiah, Nathanael says in John’s Gospel, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
The Holy Family lived in a cave like most of the families in Nazareth, and Jesus worked hard as day laborer. He preached to simple people in and around Galilee. He was continually surrounded by the poor, the sick and public sinners who were considered outcasts from society.
Jesus made his home in Capernaum, a small fishing village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He often upbraided His chosen twelve for their slowness to believe and their worldly way of thinking. One would betray Him; others would abandon Him, and Peter would personally deny ever knowing Him – after being with Him for three years.
Jesus’ work of salvation would culminate in His being crucified, with two criminals on Calvary, an insignificant hill outside the walls of Jerusalem. He was rejected by the people He came to save and died with nothing to His name. Jesus did not need the passing glory of this world in order to redeem us. The power of His death and resurrection is released in what the world sees as abject failure.
The good news for us is that Jesus is present in our real life situations and our attempts to do His will no matter how feeble it all seems. The danger for us is that we think like the world thinks. We push God aside as we pursue our plans and become frustrated when they don’t materialize. We crave success and are dissatisfied with simply giving God our fidelity. We are to do the best we can and leave the results up to Him.
I hope my trip stays with me and increases my desire to have God in every part of my life. Let’s stay close to Him in friendship, and trust Him to use everything in our lives for His good purposes.