Early yesterday morning, we bade farewell to the awe-inspiring region of Galilee -- where our Lord spent so much time in His ministry. Honestly, my mind can hardly take it in that our Lord and His followers walked everywhere or took a boat across the sea, or, in the case of Mary and Joseph, walked and rode a donkey. BTW -- our tour guide, who has lived in Israel all his life, knows just about everything there is to know about this country, and then some. We know he knows the truth and real facts about every holy place. He says "It's like your family. You pass family traditions down from one generation to the next. So it is from Jesus' day." He said it probably took 11 or more days for Mary and Joseph to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem (and that was in her final weeks of her pregnancy)!
Ladies, do you remember what it was like when you were expecting -- the swollen feet, indigestion, tummies so big we couldn't see over them to see our feet, and, more importantly, we didn't travel anywhere in our final weeks of pregnancy, because we needed the comfort and safety of our obstetrician and the hospital., But, Mary and Joseph took to the dry, dusty roads and paths to Bethlehem -- and, Lord have mercy -- on a donkey! And, here we were -- riding a luxury, air conditioned, with plush seats, motorcoach and our 2 hour drive to Jerusalem, feeling a little cramped. Lord, have mercy! (That's what our tour guide says often! LOL!)
Our first stop today was the town of Cana, the birthplace of Jesus' first miracle -- turning the water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Here's the story that came to life for us yesterday, from John 2: "On the third day, there was a wedding. It took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to Him "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you bring Me into this?" Jesus replied. "My time is not yet come". His mother said to the servants, "Do what He tells you." Our tour guide said "Jesus said "My time is not yet come" because He knew the sword would soon pierce His mother's heart once His official ministry began. That made so much sense. But this was the place of His first miracle.
We went into the chapel where all the couples on this pilgrimage were able to renew their wedding vows. It was so beautiful.
I was so happy for them. Fr Paul said, "What have you done lately for your marriage? The sacrament of marriage is your icon to the faithfulness of God and each other. Jesus laid down His life for you, and so you should for each other. He said, "Greater love has no one than this that you lay down your lives for one another." John 15:13
From that sweet time watching these precious couples say "I do" once again, we made our way to Nazareth, the place of the annunciation to Mary in her hometown and then the Holy Family's hometown and home.
The Basilica of the Annunciation that was built over the cave/stone building and home where, after the angel appeared, Mary said "I am the handmaid of the Lord, Be it unto me according to your word." It was a blessing to hear our tour guide also give credit to Joseph for his yeses. He said, "yes" to the angel when he was told to marry Marry, even if he wasn't responsible for her pregnancy. He said "yes" to going to Bethlehem, He said, "yes" to going to Egypt to hide his new baby boy and he said "yes" to raising his son and teaching him his trade and how to care for his mother. Now, God's annunciation is directed at us. Mary was given free will. She submitted to God's will.
She was willing to give herself fully to God. The Messenger, Gabriel, gave the message to Mary and she gave birth to THE MESSENGER! Now, we carry THE MESSENGER inside us and He asks us to be His MESSENGERS. The answer for our world is Jesus. The holy family's home remains are also in Nazareth. It is amazing to place our feet on this holy ground.
Then we drove through the Valley of Jezreel to Mount Tabor, (aka The Mount of Transfiguration) where in Luke 9:35, it is told that God said to the disciples from the cloud, "This is my beloved Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." Sounds like the same words that Mary said to the servers at the wedding "Do whatever He tells you to do!" I'll end my post for today to say, "Perhaps we should heed Mary's words and God's words for ultimate success and ultimate pleasing our Father...let's listen to Him and His words Indeed, we are standing on holy ground and His presence is here with us all around.
drove for two hours to Jerusalem where we'll stay until we go home on Saturday, When I walked into my room, I saw these word is on the decorative pillows on my bed. It says "Jerusalem Dream". How befitting, because Jerusalem has been in my dreams for a very long time and I am LIVING THE DREAM!
Tomorrow is Christmas Day in all our hearts as we head to Bethlehem. Merry Christmas from Jerusalem!