The first day in the Holy Land was spent traveling around Nazareth and Capernaum. The Pilgrims were able to see the town where Jesus grew up and performed many of his miracles. The first stop of the day was at the Church of the Annunciation. The pilgrims saw the house Our Lady lived in and where the angel Gabrielle appeared to her. Mar Sarhad lead the group in praying the Angelus in front of what is left of the little house Our Lady lived in.
After a short walk, the pilgrims arrived at the Church of St. Joseph. It is said that St. Joseph’s workshop is where the church was built, the ruins can be found beneath the top level. The pilgrims were able to venerate St. Joseph, who was foster father to Jesus and protector of his Mother. They were also able to see where Jesus learned his own trade of carpentry.
At the Church of the Wedding Feast in Cana, His Excellency Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo celebrated Sunday Mass. He chose to read the passage of the Wedding at Cana for the Gospel, which was very fitting. During his homily, the Bishop spoke of what an influence Our Lady had on Jesus. It is wrong to think of her only as the means for Christ’s birth because she is so much more than an incubator, just like all other mothers are more than that. Our Lady is a means of drawing closer to Christ. She is our intercessor and mediator, she is not the end, but a means to the greatest end, Jesus.
Lunch was a real treat. The pilgrims were able to try “Peter’s Fish,” which is fish from the Sea of Tiberius, the same fish Jesus and the disciples ate. After lunch, they headed to the Sea of Tiberius itself where they were able to dip their feet in the water Jesus walked on and the disciples cast their nets into. After that was a visit to the Church of the Beatitudes which is situated on the hill where Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount. Then there was a visit to St. Peter’s house where Jesus healed St. Peter’s mother in law and where Our Lord would stay during his ministry in Capernaum. Though the ruins are all that is left of this rich history, reading the Gospel accounts at the sites where Jesus once was brings the scenery back to life and allows the pilgrims to be taken back to that beautiful time when Jesus walked among us.
The last event of the day was a wonderful boat ride across the Sea of Tiberius. After meditating on the passage where Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14), the group enjoyed one another’s company by singing and dancing. Though the day was a physically tiring one, it was very spiritually filling.