The third installment, written by Jason Tower, of the guest blogs from the senior trip to the Holy Land.
Today we had a whirlwind tour of much of the public ministry of Jesus. After a wakeup call an hour earlier than the day before, we left Nazareth and headed out to the Sea of Galilee. There we stopped first at the Mount of the Beatitudes — the location of the Sermon on the Mount — which featured a church atop the hill, built with funds from Mussolini. The church is shaped in an octagon, one side for each beatitude. Our tour guide explained Jesus probably was not at the top of the mount preaching, but preached from below with the crowds on top, using the shape of the hill as a natural amphitheater. Our guide suggested this possibility might reconcile Matthew’s reference to a mount and Luke’s reference to a sermon on a plain.From there, we went to the location of the Miracle of feeding the five thousand, the location of Jesus’s reaffirmation of Peter after the Resurrection, and Peter’s house (where the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law occurred). We were able to celebrate Mass together atop the well-defined remains of Peter’s house.
While some of the pilgrims were praying after Mass for people they knew in need of healing, others enjoyed a cat they found sleeping in the church sanctuary. We later toured the rest of Peter’s ancient city, Capernaum, which was destroyed in an earthquake and abandoned, to the benefit of us pilgrims. This meant there was not a modern city built on top such as exists in Nazareth. From there we went to see the ruins of a 2000-year-old fishing boat, and then took our own boat ride onto the Sea of Galilee.
The waves remained calm and no walking on water was attempted. After our Galilean cruise, we went to lunch where a majority of students tried fish, whole tilapia with head and tail included.
Following lunch, we went to a site controlled by the Legion in Magdala, where a first century synagogue and town was discovered.
Due to a mudslide, the ruins were preserved instead of forming foundations for later buildings. We also ran into Celine Kelly, who spent many years working at Everest. Afterward, we took a two-hour bus ride to Jerusalem where the students enjoyed seeing a camel “parked” at a gas station and a shepherd tending his sheep. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, we retired for the night with an early 6:30 am Mass awaiting us in the morning.