Day three began with breakfast at Pilgerhaus. We boarded the bus and headed a few minutes along the shore to Tabgha — which is short for longer Greek word meaning "Seven Springs." That is why the fish gravitate toward the northwest corner of the sea because of the warm water in the winter months. Tabgha is where Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. There are ancient evidences of Jewish Christians gathering here as early as 34 AD. The mosaic of the loaves and fish is from the 4-6th century.
Then we drove up the large hill (or small mountain, as you prefer) for Mass at the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount looking out over the Sea. Fr. Bernie Fraser celebrated a wonderful Mass and again gave a very appropriate and insightful homily. It was here on the mountainside that Jesus showed himself to be the "New Moses" as he climbed the mountain sat and taught the people the New Law. Pilgrims always love this place because of its serenity as we walk through the beautiful gardens.
Our bus then took the 1 hour drive to the furthest tip of northern Israel. As we drove the last few miles we were driving along the Lebanese border to Banias. No one was worried or scared in the least as everything here is quiet, peaceful and friendly. You will hear this from the pilgrims' own mouths. Banias was called Caesarea Philippi in the time of Christ. You can read about Jesus journey and words here in Matthew 16. It is where Peter received his name when Jesus said, "You are Peter (Rock) and on this rock I will build my church." The site is stunning and no one left unmoved. I gave my 20 minute version of my talk "Peter, the Rock, the Keys & the Chair" which is also available in a longer version on my audio CD. Everyone was very touched at this site and happy to be Catholic.
Next we drove through the Golan Heights along the border with Syria. Everyone got out of the bus and looked out toward Damascus which was only about one hour to the NE. We ate falafels and Druze Bread at a local Druze restaurant–way out of the way, a real authentic place. Everyone loved the unique food made of flat bread, yogurt, olive oil, and Zatar.
Next was Cana of Galilee where Jesus turned water into wine. All the married couples held hands and renewed their wedding vows. You will see part of this moving ceremony on the video. Always a time of tears and joy.
After an hour to shower and rest up, we crammed the bus with all 55 of us and we went north to dinner at Aberge Shulamit. It is Janet and my favorite restaurant in Israel.
Everyone is having a great time. The food is wonderful, deep friendships are being formed, and the Lord Jesus is making himself wonderfully known in the LAND, in the LITURGY, and in our LIVES. Tomorrow we will spend more time around the Sea, take a boat ride on Galilee, eat St. Peter's Fish, celebrate Mass at Capernaum in Peter's house (where Jesus lived and did most of his miracles). Finally we will head south and go up to Jerusalem and end the day at Ein Kerem and the Church of the Visitation. Pray for us and we will pray for you.