October 15, 2013 (Tuesday): TIBERIAS – MOUNT OF BEATITUDES – CAPERNAUM – JERICHO – JORDAN RIVER – EIN KAREM – JERUSALEM
We ate our early breakfast at 6:15AM. At the same time we brought our baggage to the hotel lobby because we had to leave at 7:30AM bound for Mount of Beatitudes for an 8AM Mass presided by Fr. Ching Salibay OP. While on our way to Mount of Beatitudes, Morning Prayer was said; Bible passages were distributed and mine was: “Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He shall sustain you,” (Ps. 55:22).
Church of the Beatitudes is located on the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha and Capernaum. The Church is located on a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee and built on the traditional site where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Both Popes Paul VI and John Paul II celebrated Mass at the church during their pastoral visits to the Holy Land.
When we were in the Mount of Beatitudes, we saw the panoramic view from the top where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:1-12). This is a breathtaking site overlooking the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. And the Church of Beatitudes displays beautiful windows and mosaics.
During the Eucharistic celebration which started at around 8:18AM, Fr Ching preached to us about the ABC of Happiness and they are: 1) It is Attitude. 2) Blessing to others, 3) Happiness is a Choice. Choose to be happy, “Gusto ko happy ka”
We left the Church of Beatitudes at 9:48AM bound for Capharnaum but Fr. Roming Buenaobra was lost and so some looked for him until he was found. This term was coined: the “Parable of the Lost Shepherd,” just joking.
We arrived in Capharnaum at around 9:58AM. It is situated on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This is also the place where Jesus made His first disciples from among the humble fishermen. Capernaum is mentioned several times in the Gospels, as the scene of many miracles and sermons: “Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught,” (Mk. 1:21). It is where Jesus launched His Ministry (Matthew 4). A church built over the site of St. Peter’s Houseand the ruins of an ancient synagogue, among the oldest synagogues in the world, fascinated me. The synagogue consisted of four parts: the praying hall, the western patio, a southern balustrade and a small room at the northwest of the synagogue. Here Jesus taught in the synagogue, cured the sick and performed miracles.
The House of Peter is one block of homes from the old synagogue. Next to the House is the lakeshore of the Sea of Galilee.
And then we left Capharnaum, the city of Jesus at11AM bound for Jericho.
While on our way to Jericho, we saw huge desert land. That is why, a Holy Land pilgrim in the past said: “Mile after mile of the stony barren wilderness with occasional sightings of camels, goats, sheep and Bedouin settlements. These latter are a vexation to the Israeli government as they are an uncontrollable element of society, knowing all the hidden ways of the barren hills. Bedouin tents have the appearance of a small shanty town and it seems a marvel that they can access water in some very uncompromising terrain. Suddenly, all one’s preconceptions about desert and wilderness need revision as mile after mile of stark hills with a minimum of vegetation sweep away into the far distance on either side of the coach. The man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho alone in the story might possibly have been regarded as a fool by Jesus’ listeners! There is, unsurprisingly, a Good Samaritan Inn.”
I can now easy to understand that this barren place, which would have been familiar to Jesus, offered a way to escape from the excesses of large community living and reflect on the spiritual needs of humanity, oneself and the temptations of the world, unfettered by the pressure of a City or town. There is a famous Desert Spirituality that gave a great influence on the early Church specifically on St. Anthony of the Desert.
Jericho is a small city within the Palestinian Territories, close to the northern end of Dead Sea; some 55 kilometers from Jerusalem; and is administered by Palestinian National Authority. This is possibly the oldest city in the world dating to 8,000 BC; more than 10,000 years. Jericho too the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world (Joshua 6:12-25). At the time of Exodus in the Old Testament, Jericho was the entry point of the Israelites under Joshua into the Promised Land. That is why this place is most famous as the location when Joshua brought down the walls with the blowing of horn: seven priests blew their trumpets and “the walls came tumbling down,” (Jos 6:1-27). The Elijah Spring, where the prophet Elijah miraculously sweetened the bad water, runs across from the Temptation Center. Also within close proximity are the historical sycamore tree Zechariah most probably climbed to catch a glimpse of Jesus. We viewed the Mount of Temptation (Mt. 4:1-11), where Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit on a forty-day of fasting and prayer after His Baptism prior to His public ministry in Capharnaum.
Several other biblical sites, beside the Mount of Temptation, exist in or around Jericho, including Herod’s winter Palace, the city of the Essenes where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, Hasham’s Palace, and the Tel es Sultan. The site of the Baptism of Jesus is 11 kilometers southeast of Jericho.
Other biblical site that can be seen in Jericho is the Mount of Temptation: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). Also called “Mount Quarantal” which means 40, in reference to Jesus’ fast of “forty days and forty nights” (Matt. 4:2). The Quarantal Monastery stands half way up the mountain.
We arrived at Jericho Temptation Restaurant for our lunch at 1PM. This restaurant sits at the doorstep of the biblical city of Jericho. After lunch we shopped for souvenirs at the ground floor and then left this Jericho Temptation Restaurant at 2:19PM drove to River Jordan where St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus and was also an occasion for all of us to renew our Baptism with gown for free. Saher our tour bus driver brought us to a sycamore tree (Luke 19:1-10) for awhile, have pictures of the sycamore tree and then proceeded to River Jordan. While on our way to River Jordan we passed through the Judean Wilderness where Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting, and it is in this area that John the Baptist (Mark 1) lived and baptized Christ.
Jordan River is a river in Southwest Asia flowing to the Dead Sea. It is one of the world’s most sacred rivers where Jesus was baptized by St. John. The Jordan River is 251 kilometers long. This is also the place where St. John witnessed that Jesus as the Son of God and Lamb of God.
After Baptism we took pictures and then proceeded to the City of Jerusalem. Before going to Commodore Hotel, we visited two churches at around 5PM in Ein Karem.
Ein Karem is in southwest of Jerusalem and famous for the Church of the Visitation where the Blessed Virgin Mary visited St. Elizabeth and the Church of St. John the Baptist where St. John the Baptist was born: “During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth,” (Lk. 1:39-40).
The Visitation Church at Ein Karem is the place where St. John’s parents Zachariah and St. Elizabeth resided. The New Testament tells us of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth while they both were pregnant (Luke 1:39-56). According to Christian tradition, this is the site where Mary sang her Song of Praise, the Magnificat. This Magnificat is translated into several languages, including Tagalog and written on the wall outside the Church. The Upper Hall of the Church is dedicated to Mary and its walls are decorated with paintings in honor of her. Several sites within the village are associated with that visit. We took pictures and said some prayers and reflection.
After taking pictures we went down to Mary’s Spring, a spring and fountain at the center of the ancient village. According to one tradition, this was a place where Mary and Elizabeth met from Nazareth and where Mary drank and brought some water to St. Elizabeth residence. But the spring water is now contaminated by the runoff water from the nearby Hadassah Hospital. I washed my face with some of this water. The spring consequently became a place of Christian pilgrimage.
The last church in Ein Karem we went into was St. John the Baptist Church. When we entered the Church, the main gate was half closed and closed when we were about to leave but was open by the Franciscan in-charge. Inside the Church are the remains of an ancient mosaic floor and a grotto where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born.
After our visit in St. John the Baptist Church, we went to Commodore Hotel in Samuel Ben Adaya Street, Jerusalem, checked in, had dinner at 7pm, rest and sleep.
More Photos courtesy of Rence Galbo
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