Saturday, January 4, 2014

Israel cont.

Day 3-

Sea of Galilee      
     We started day three with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. It was a sunny, warm morning and a slight haze lifted as we pulled away from shore. Ten minutes into the ride the captain turned on music. Immediately, I teared up when I heard, "Oh Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the worlds Thy hands have made....." There were only two wishes I remember Theresa having before she died: That the twins be raised wholesome Catholics and that How Great Thou Art would be played at her funeral.  I delight in the lyrics of this song because they allude to the very nature of Theresa's person! After the song and a few others had been played Fr. Guido asked us to sit for a meditation. And his meditation was on the very notion that I have struggled with since Theresa died, that is: faith can move mountains.
     During the last 9 months of Theresa's life I knew how grim the outlook was. My gut feeling from the moment she announced to me that her platelets were low, screamed that she didn't have a chance. However, I told myself that if I believed enough, possessed enough faith.....God would spare her life. I simply thought that death was not an option if I didn't think about it. Therefore, we rarely visited the the topic of dying and any of the specifics associated with it. Moreover, certain members of the family were convinced that she should have as much fun as possible, to keep her mind off the inevitable. More than once, I was told to avoid any serious discussion and keep Theresa focused on future endeavors. Don't get me wrong, I think that with chronic illness this aspect is important; however, it should not overshadow the ultimate questions in life. Life is short and frankly, not all about fun. Needless to say, my conscience urged me to bring these topics up anyway, but I shut that little voice down for two reasons.
     First, I didn't want to offend her husband. I felt caught between a rock and a hard place. I loved Theresa inherently, without reserve. At the same time though, I knew the importance of a spousal relationship and feared treading on the marriage vow. Now, I regret holding back....but hindsight is always 20/20. Secondly, I thought by talking about dying I might be doubting the possibility of a miracle. Oh, how naive I was! I viewed faith as some kinda magic! It has taken me a year and a half since Theresa's death to understand that faith does not merely move mountains. Faith is even greater than that! Which brings me back to Fr. Guido's meditation.
     Fr. Guido explained that most Hebrew words are associated with ideas. The Hebrew word 'sea' is associated with one's life and the continuum of earthly time. Father continued to say that the word 'mountain' is associated with a mystery of God. Therefore, faith that can move mountains metaphorically means the kind of faith that can move God mysteries(the mountains) in to our lives(the sea). Faith enables us to grasp on to something larger than a mountain, a mystery of God. We may never totally understand those mysteries, but faith allows us the ability to embrace them.
     Ha! And there was the answer I had been searching for. How simple!
     One last incidence completes my story. How Great Thou Art was played twice on the pilgrimage. Once on the Sea of Galilee, as previously mentioned. The other time was during the Mass said in Notre Dame, which lies on top of Mount Zion, the highest point in Jerusalem. I listened to those beautiful lyrics on a sea (my life) and a mountain (God mystery-Theresa's death). To some, it may seem like coincidence. But I think, Theresa's heavenly prayers were shining grace upon me.

Gotta love those yellow hats....

Just soaking up the sun.

Church of Peter's Primacy
     Church built upon the supposed site where Jesus reinstated Peter as the leader among the apostles. According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles and told Peter, "Feed my sheep" after the miraculous catch and third time He appeared to them after His resurrection. 

Fr. Guido celebrated Mass on the beautiful church grounds. Of course, the gospel reading was John, chapter 21 when Jesus appeared on the shore. Father explained in his sermon that in the original Greek text John uses different words for love: phileo, which means more or less a human love and agapao, which means to die for someone. The Greek text would read like this:

Jesus: Simon, son of John, do you love me like you would die for me? 
Peter: Yes Lord, I love you but only with a human love.
Jesus: Simon, son of John, do you love me like you would die for me?
Peter: Yes Lord, I love you but only with a human love.
Jesus: Simon, son of John, do you love me with human love?
Peter: Lord, you know everything, you know I can only love you with a human love.

Jesus continues: "Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone will dress you and lead you here you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. (John 21:18).

Fr. Guido's interpretation of the reading was that as mere humans we are only capable of loving with a human love. However, when we allow Christ in to our hearts, He transforms us. Christ's love working through us, enables us to act in ways we never could have dreamed of. Jesus says to Peter, 'Ya........when you were young and didn't know me you did whatever you wanted, but that you know who I am and have accepted me in to your heart.....I will lead you to places you don't want to go. You will follow, even to the point of crucifixion, because I live in you. By My grace, your love will be perfected."


Talapia caught from the Sea of Galilee. In Israel it is referred to as, St. Peter's Fish.

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. It was DELICIOUS!

     Capernaum is the town where St. Peter's mother-in-law lived. Jesus resided there for 20 months when He first started his ministry. 
     Nasser was constantly making wise cracks about his mother-in-law. Obviously, it was a rather strained relationship. But it all made sense when he told us his mother-in-law was his cousin! Anyway here was one of his jokes: 
     A man visits the Holy Land with his mother-in-law. While on the trip the mother-in-law falls ill and dies. The son asks how much a burial will cost. The grounds keeper tells him that to ship her home it will cost $10,000 but a simple burial in the Holy Land will cost $500. The son ponders a moment and replies, "Ship her home." The puzzled ground keeper responds, "Why not bury her here? It would be a fraction of the cost of shipping her home." The son says, "About 2,000 years ago a man died in this land and three days later rose from the dead. I don't think I can take that kind of chance."

This is factually Capernaum from the time of Jesus. Of course, it was uncovered years later and only waist high walls are left. 

The church built over St. Peter's mother-in-law's house. Ugly....I know.

The house where Jesus resided while in Capernaum. Also, where the cripple was lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. 

Mount of the Beatitudes
     The Mount of the Beatitudes was a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. The grounds were spectacularly landscaped. However, this was a traditional site, not factual.

I was feeling like a dog....blah...

And that wrapped up day 3. Our motel was right on the Sea of Galilee so Alex and I spent the evening enjoying the sunset.