Our tour in Israel, after leaving the Jordan River, took us along the east side of the Sea of Galilee. This land was formerly part of Syria (Golan Heights). Once a desert, the Israelites have converted it into a land of plenty with orchards of lemons, mangos, pomegranates, oranges, bananas, kiwi, and many others fruits. Interestingly, the cherry trees are covered by netting to keep the birds out. The banana orchards are also netted – something to do with controlled the temperature.
At the northern end of the sea, at our lunch stop, we walked down to the water’s edge to touch the waters of the Sea of Galilee. The sea is about 16 feet below normal level due to lack of rain the last few years. Israel no long draws water from the sea except for irrigation purposes. The usable water in Israel now comes from four desalination plants.
At Tabgha, in the Church of the Feeding of the Multitude, our guide had a fellow traveler read the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish from the Book of Matthew.
Jesus lived at Capernaum. The ruins of an elaborate synagogue and what is perhaps the home of St. Peter have been found here.
Our last stop in Israel was at the Mount of Beatitudes, a beautiful hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Here Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Esther volunteered to read the story from the Book of Matthew. While listening, it was very easy to imagine Jesus speaking to the crowds. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn..."
This past Sunday was Easter Sunday. Having just visited the places that the minister spoke about in his sermon certainly made the sermon, and the entire experience of Good Friday and Easter, so much more meaningful to me. An extraordinary experience, without a doubt!!