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My journal entry continues describing one Sunday in 1988 on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Last month I wrote about Mass in Galilee, celebrated in Aramaic and Arabic, the closest language to that which Jesus spoke.
After Mass at St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Ibillin with Fr. Chacour, our lunch at a Kibbutz was St. Peter’s fish, found only in the Sea of Galilee. We looked forward to the boat trip across the Sea of Galilee, as a peaceful time of reflection, sailing to the middle of the lake. From there we would see many of the places where Jesus taught and lived around the lake. In quiet meditation, we might imagine him walking on water or preaching from Peter’s boat.
Sudden storm at sea
But the Lord gave us a different image to take home. A storm came up suddenly, and we experienced a small idea of what’s it’s like to get caught in a storm at sea. The waves drenched to the skin all of us singing on the top deck. John Michael Talbot barely rescued his guitar. We came below deck to hear a teaching on the story of the storm at sea rather than the scriptures planned for a calm day. God decided what happened next.
Because of the weather, the tour guide announced the cancellation of the scheduled walk among the ruins of Capernaum. But as we neared the shore, the rain stopped. Two rainbows appeared, signs of God’s sovereignty, and plans changed again. We visited Capernaum under sunny skies!
Isn’t that just like the Lord to adjust our schedule to accommodate the lessons he wants us to learn, despite all the plans of men? And isn’t he always there to calm our seas?
We saw the remains of the Temple and Peter’s house nearby. Surprisingly, Peter’s house was huge, prime real estate close to the Temple. From there he managed a prosperous seafood business. God changed the plans—and the life— of this affluent citizen. He gave all this up for the Lord and became famous not as an astute business owner but as our first Pope.
That Sunday Jesus was with us in the Eucharist, in the murmur of our lips worshipping him, and responding to prayers said in his native tongue. He soothed the aching in our hearts to join as one with him and Christians of Galilee and all nations. Then he came to us in the majesty of the waves at sea, drenching us with his love and reminding us to depend on him. He rescued us from our fears and punctuated his faithfulness with rainbows!
Experiencing the Mass at Ilbillin, a storm on the Sea of Galilee and Peter’s home at Capernaum made the scriptures become indelibly alive to us. With so much turmoil in this area today, our hearts and memories take us to the Christians suffering there as we pray for their safety.
When has an abrupt change of plans shown you God is in control and given you new insight into his ways?
(© 2017 Nancy H C Ward)