In Tabgha: with Jesus on the shores of Lake Tiberias

Jesus taught the crowds many times and walked with his disciples on the shores of Lake Tiberias. Today, looking at those shores and at that water, Jesus seems closer. On the shores of what is often referred to as the Sea of Galilee, at Taghba, three biblical episodes took place: the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7), the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes (John: 6:1ss), and the conferment of the primacy to Peter 21) with the appearance of the risen Jesus to the apostles. On June 2, with a solemn mass presided over by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, the episode of Peter’s Primacy was celebrated on the shores of that lake.
Taghba gets its name from the Greek Hepta Pegon (that is, “of the seven sources”) and is about three kilometers west of Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The pilgrim Egeria, according to the twelfth-century text by Pietro Diacono, had already described this place, which she visited toward the end of the fourth century.

The mass took place in a beautiful setting, outdoors, with chairs laid on the gravel and a wooden boat as an altar. The boat was built by Fr. Wojciech Boloz, the superior of fraternity, specifically for this pilgrimage that has been held for five years. The Father Custos, at the opening of the celebration said, “This is a special opportunity to pray for the church, to pray for Peter’s successor, the Pope, but it is also an opportunity to personally answer the questions that Jesus also asks us: “Do you love me?” “Do you love me?”At a later time, the Custos also asked everyone to observe a moment of silence so that they could answer the question in their own hearts.

“After the resurrection, the disciples had returned to their work, and they believed it was all over. Jesus, on the other hand, continued to be with them and reveals himself, as [he did] with the disciples in Emmaus,” said Fr. Amjad Sabbara, parish priest for Nazareth, in his homily. “He asked the disciples to cast the nets on the right side, as he had done at the time of their calling. So in this way, they were reminded of what Jesus had done. Sometimes Jesus has us repeat the same gestures, but we need his help to acknowledge his power in these events.” As for the episode of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, Fr. Amjad said that “it is a sign of the Eucharist. It is Jesus’ continued presence that helps us understand that he is with us. But we must renew our yes to his love.”

The Nazareth parish youth choir enlivened the celebration. “Our parish has 8,300 people and is full of activities for families and the youth,” said Fr. Amjad, who has been the pastor for ten years. Cristina, a young woman in the parish, attended mass in Tabgha for the first time: “I’m glad to be here, and for us in the parish this is an important moment. So many of us sang and I came to take pictures.” Another woman from Nazareth explained that she was at mass with her whole family and that sharing this moment with them filled her with joy. An Italian pilgrim said, “It was exciting to attend the celebration on the same the stones washed by the sea of Galilee, on which Jesus entrusted Peter with the task of building the Church.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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