Bishop Nelson Perez and 50 pilgrims from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland began a 10-day journey to the Holy Land on Oct. 23. The Catholic Community Foundation coordinated the trip and Deacon Dennis Conrad from St. Christopher Parish in Rocky River will be sending regular updates to share their experiences throughout the pilgrimage. His fourth installment is below.
Day 4 of the pilgrimage focused on the places where Jesus preached outside of Jerusalem.
The day started on the Mount of the Beatitudes, the site where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount which included the beatitudes. Next we went down the Mount to the Sea of Galilee to see a boat found from the first century and then went out on the sea. It was calm for the boat tour, but later we saw how quickly a storm can appear on the sea. From calm to stormy in the span of a few hours.
The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves was our next stop. The rock beneath the altar is the rock upon which Jesus blessed the bread and fish before he fed the 5,000.
We then journeyed to the bank of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus met Peter and some of the disciples after his resurrection. The church wall is built shouldering the rock where Jesus cooked fish for the disciples and where he three times asked Peter if he loved him. The small church is named the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy.
Then we went up to Capernaum to celebrate Mass in the church over Peter’s house and to tour the village’s synagogue.
Our last stop for the day was the city of Magdala in which recent excavations uncovered the only first century synagogue on the Sea of Galilee.
It was a busy day today. All day I kept going back to the beatitudes. When we think about the many blessings we have received freely from God, how many times do we focus on material things such as wealth, possessions or our health? As we read the blessings Jesus shared with the people, none of them relate to these material things. Instead, these beatitudes are meant to focus us on the spiritual blessings which we also received from God -- such as being poor in spirit, being meek, being humble and seeking justice, to name a few.
Today, my pilgrim’s thought was while most of us are quick to share our material blessings, do we approach our spiritual blessings in the same manner? And as we all know we cannot share something we do not have in our lives.