Thought for Monday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time (February 27, 2017)
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement, his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
Our first full day in Israel was amazing! The whole day was spent on or near the Sea of Galilee. We began by going to the Mount of the Beatitudes. What a beautiful place it is! There are flowers, green meadows, singing birds, etc. The weather was perfect – about 70 degrees and sunny. We read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) and reflected on what it must have been like to listen to Jesus teach and preach near the coast of the Sea of Galilee. It is overwhelming for the whole group to walk in the places Jesus walked and talked. It is the only place in the world that one can do that.
Then we took a short bus ride to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. We read from John 21 in which Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?” near the place they believe this actually happened. We talked about the mercy of Jesus and His willingness to entrust the Church into the hands of a sinner like Peter. It gives us all hope that Jesus loves us, is willing to forgive us, and desires to do great things in and through us.
We then traveled a few minutes to Capernaum and visited the house of St. Peter’s mother-in-law, the one that Jesus healed. We celebrated Mass in the church above this house. It was at this location where Jesus taught His disciples about the Eucharist in John 6. I have preached about the Eucharist and John 6 many times, but during the homily I got very emotional. Never had I preached about my favorite Scripture in the place that it actually happened! It was my close moment for the day. Capernaum was the place that Jesus and His disciples called home during most of His ministry.
After Capernaum, we visited the 4th century church of the fishes and loaves. This is where they believe one of the multiplication of the fishes and loaves occurred. We read the miracle story from Mark 6. We talked about how the Lord calls each of us to offer to Him everything that we have and He will multiply it and do things with it that we never thought possible. We finished by singing “Like a Shepherd He Feeds His Flock”.
We then had lunch at a restaurant near the Sea of Galilee where we could eat St. Peter’s fish, otherwise known as Tilapia (with head attached or without). They also offered us chicken breasts or kabobs.
After filling our bellies, we boarded a boat and sailed on the Sea of Galilee. It was a wonderful experience to be on the water where Jesus and His disciples sailed. We read three different passages on the boat (Luke 5:1-11, Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 14:22-33). Then we sang “Be Not Afraid”. We talked about how boats are a symbol of the Church. Sometimes the waters of our lives are rough and we feel that Jesus is asleep or has abandoned us. However, Jesus promises to be with us always, until the end of time.
We then visited Magdala, which is a recent excavation site led by the Legionaries of Christ. They have discovered a synagogue that Jesus and His disciples probably visited. Then they have built a church near the synagogue in the last 10 years that is dedicated to the public ministry of Jesus. Because this area is known to be the home of Mary Magdalene, we did a prayer service honoring all women, past and present, who have made an impact on the Church and in our individual lives. It was a touching moment for all of us who were there. Then Fr. Eamon Kelly gave us a nice tour of the Church. Downstairs they have a chapel with the original stone floor that pre-dates Jesus. He said this floor was the street of the marketplace near the water where fishermen traveled daily. It was very likely that Jesus walked on these very stones as many of His followers were fishermen. Some of us took off our shoes to walk on the stone floor just to imagine walking in the very footsteps of Jesus.
We then drove back about one hour to Nazareth and for dinner. After dinner, the 55 pilgrims and our guide Yair gathered in a room at the hotel to share more about ourselves since this was the first day we were all together. We shared what brought us on this pilgrimage and some shared prayer intentions. We chose prayer partners randomly from a hat so that we would be praying particularly for someone on the pilgrimage each day.
It was a full day, but one that surpassed all of our expectations. Many people commented something to the effect that their hearts were filled today with an encounter with Christ, and it was only the first day! Please continue to pray for us as we pray for you.