Holy Land Pilgrimage Day Two – 7th November 2019 – by Alex Homfray
Mount of the Beatitudes, Mensa Christi, Tagba, Capernaum, and the Sea of Galilee
A calmer, more reflective day today. We are relaxed in each other’s company, more attuned to the nuances of the places we travelled through and more attuned to the collective mood.
Much of the day is spent outside, enjoying the beauty of Jesus’ Galilee home – purple bougainvillea and red jacaranda flowers, mangos, pomegranates, bananas and the soft swish of waves on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
In this place of abundance, our readings focus on God’s abundant love for His people – as shown by the manna that sustained the Israelites crossing the wilderness, the feeding of the five thousand, and the miraculous catch of 153 fish (mirroring the 153 nations of the world in Jesus’ time).
We wash our feet in the Sea of Galilee. We celebrate an unforgettable Mass in a garden overlooking the water. We eat an enormous meal at St Peter’s Restaurant, each of us served a spiny local tilapia fish. We sing ‘Oceans’ rather well as our boat cuts swiftly through the waves.
At the end of the day we agree it is the natural features that have brought us closest to Jesus. We feel reassured that – among the bustle of modern Israel – the Sea, the mountains and the waves remain exactly as Jesus knew them. We wonder at the natural amphitheatre on the Mount of Beatitudes that allowed Jesus to be heard and seen by thousands of listeners (it really works!).
Finally, we reflect on our own role as disciples to Jesus and hope we can communicate something of what we are experiencing, to our Church family back in Greenwich.
But as Father John-Francis reminds us, you can’t stay for ever in the place you want to be in. The disciples had to leave the comfort and familiarity of Galilee. Jesus had to go down to Jerusalem. And so shall we tomorrow, continuing to follow His footsteps.
At the end of the day, a scorpion is found in the corridor of the convent. We catch it and set it free.