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“Here’s a question for you:  what do you call the Sea of Galilee? … Give up? … Lake Galilee!  Yes, it is really a fresh water lake filled with at least 32 varieties of fish! Our wake up today was at 6:00 A.M. We’re told that’s the latest wake up for the rest of our pilgrimage. OK, it IS a pilgrimage after all! Our driver Rami took us to Capernaum, so we could get to our 8:30 A.M. boat ride on Lake Galilee. It was calm and sunny, and so easy to imagine Jesus on the lake with his friends. The boat’s captain even ran the American flag next to the Jewish flag and played our national anthem, which we all sang with pride.  Jill shared the Gospel passage telling of Jesus walking toward the apostles in a boat on the lake in the midst of a storm. We listened to the song, “Oceans”. Why do we doubt? As the apostles said after Jesus calmed the storm, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Our boat dropped us off on the north end of Lake Galilee. Here Jesus spent much time with his friends, preaching in the synagogues, curing the sick and casting out demons. Hani told us it was like their “home base”.  This church is known as the Primacy of Peter. It is built elevated above the ruins of the home of St. Peter, and surrounded by other ruins from Jesus’ time. This location is also remembered for Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection, where he baked fish on a charcoal fire and tested Peter: “Do you love me?” Here Peter was commissioned by Jesus as leader of his Church. Fr. Thomas celebrated Mass for us outside on the shore of Lake Galilee, just a short distance from this spot. How humbling to think of Jesus’ love for Peter, and faith in him after Peter’s denial just a short time before.

Our pilgrimage continued on to the Church of the Beatitudes, built in an octagon shape representing eternal life, the eighth day – day after the Sabbath and the day of Jesus’ resurrection, and similar to a circle, with the Lord in the middle and all of us equidistant from him on the line surrounding. We were invited by Jill to enter the Church without looking up, take a seat, then look to see which beatitude, written on each wall of the Church, we are across from – perhaps this is the one for us to reflect on. We then had time to do that as we walked in the many gardens around the church right on Lake Galilee.

We had an exciting lunch today!  We ate a local restaurant where fresh fish is served, caught in Lake Galilee, either filleted or whole.

The ancient town of Magdala was our last pilgrim stop for today. Here, while excavating to build a welcome center, a first century synagogue was found. Building stopped and excavation continued, finding more of the first century town of Magdala, a town which Jesus would have frequented with his apostles. The welcome center is now being built while the excavation site is preserved. Just imagine – Jesus very likely taught in this synagogue, bought fish from the market here, and laughed with his friends. We departed Magdala for Jerusalem.

Tonight, half of our pilgrims walked 30 minutes to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to spend the night awake, in prayer. They’re grateful for all of the prayers of our Everest, and you can count on all of us praying for you.  More on this tomorrow!”

– Guest post by Mrs. Kathie Nalepa