Steve & Janet Ray’s Holy Land Pilgrimage – Day 4
by Steve Ray on September 4, 2007
Another day full of excitement, good friends, holy places, experience of our Lord and delicious food. Next we visited the Ancient Boat–also called the Jesus Boat. It was found in the mud a decade ago and preserved so we can enjoy seeing it now. It is the remains of a fishing boat from the first century and for all we know it was the boat in which Jesus preached, slept and from which he walked on the water.
Imagine the Sea of Galilee in the misty morning with birds singing and waves lapping the shore. Now imagine 55 pilgrims boarding a boat and setting out into the sea to sail the same waters fished by Peter, Andrew, James and John — the same water upon which Jesus walked.
While on the boat I explained the life of Jesus while he was in Galilee. From the boat we could see Tabgha, Capernaum, Beatitudes, Bethsaida and more. We sang hymns to honor our Lord and the praise was very moving. It was great.
We then went to Mass at 10 AM above the ruins of the House of St. Peter in Capernaum — one of my all time favorite holy sites. It was here that Jesus healed many people, cast out demons, and preached the kingdom. He also healed Peter's mother-in-law, which some people joke is the reason Peter later denied him It was a beautiful Mass as you will see in the video clip. The Church is above the ruins with a glass floor so you can see where Jesus lived for 3 years during his Galilean ministry.
After Mass I described to everyone the archaeology of the site before going to the synagogue where Jesus taught the sermon on the Eucharist saying "Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood you have no life in you." This is recorded in John chapter 6. I showed the pilgrims the part of the old synagogue that was actually there when Jesus taught about the Blessed Sacrament.
We then gathered on benches under the trees and I gave my talk "Defending the Eucharist: You are What You Eat!" in an impassioned but abbreviated form.
Then to lunch. Set in front of us were whole fishes with heads and tails. They were the same fish Jesus cooked for the disciples and the main fish caught by the disciples in the Sea of Galilee. They are like tilapia and commonly known as “St. Peter’s Fish” but are called "Amnum” in Hebrew. I went fishing all night once catching these fish.
A long bus drive brought us to the Jerusalem "suburb" of Ein Kerem where we visited the Church of the Visitation and the birthplace of John the Baptist. By the way, we are praying every Mystery of the Rosary along the way at all the sites related to the mysteries — so in Ein Kerem we prayed the Joyful Mystery of the Visitation. I gave my talk here explaining Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant and much more. You can find my article on this topic on my website under Resources > Steve's Writings > Apologetics. We have a great time here and it was cooler because we are now higher up.
After a good dinner I took the pilgrims to the roof of our hotel to over look the Old City of Jerusalem where I gave them a brief overview of the Bible and salvation history along with the movements of Jesus on the last days before and after his death and resurrection.
Tomorrow we have Mass at the Tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a visit to Bethlehem, lots of shopping and more views of Jerusalem from high points.