In the “city of Jesus,” Capernaum, commemorating His miracles

On the Saturday of the second week of October is a special day for Capernaum: in the “city of Jesus,” Christ’s presence and His miracles are commemorated right where the events took place according to the Gospels. Thus, on Saturday, October 14, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land hosted the celebration that began on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There they commemorated the coming of Jesus from Nazareth, his preaching about conversion and his calling of the apostles of Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Matthew 4: 12-22). The procession then proceeded to the memorial where the Lord said the discourse about the bread of life referring to the Eucharist (John 6: 25-29), to the house of Peter, where Jesus healed the mother-in-law of the apostle and other sick people (Luke 4: 38-41). In the same house, Jesus healed a paralytic, as a sign of forgiveness of sins, and in that same place, he called Matthew to follow him (Mark 2:1-17). Amidst the excitement of walking on that Holy Land where Christ worked miracles, the procession of friars and faithful reached the church built on Peter’s house.
The mass was celebrated by Fr. Dobromir Jazstal, Vicar of Custody. “The evangelical story we have heard today is one of the simple and profound episodes that has meaning for our lives as well,” he said in his homily. The Vicar made reference to the miracle of the centurion’s son, which was read during the Gospel at the church. “The centurion’s faith is great because he recognizes the power of Jesus’ word. We are also urged to turn to Jesus and to be healed by him” The centurion’s faith therefore becomes the model of the attitude that all men must take before God.
Fr. Dobromir then focused on another aspect: “Jesus’ contemporaries expected liberation from the power of Rome and from all other enemies, without fully understanding that God wanted to offer them something deeper and much more important: freedom from sin and death.”
For Arabic-speaking faithful, many of whom were present in Galilee, Fr. Amjad Sabbara, the pastor of Nazareth, gave a short homily.

Among the songs of the Nazareth parish choir, mass took on–as is the case with all of the Custody celebrations–a solemn tone. In the church at the time of the offering, fruit baskets were brought up, as a reminder of the Eucharist and as a sign of thanksgiving to God for the goods received by his goodness in the last harvest of the year. One by one, the friars, faithful, pilgrims and children of the Terra Santa School who were present, got in line to symbolically receive a piece of fruit. “Our sincere thanks from the brotherhood of Capernaum goes to the custodial vicar, for having presided over this celebration,” said Fr. Luca Panza, guardian of the monastery of the Custody of the Holy Land at Capernaum before the blessing.

The parishioners from Nazareth joyfully take part in the feast every year. Among them are the young director of the choir, Firas, who is a music student in Jerusalem. Firas smiles with satisfaction after seeing the great results and the beautiful performance that took place during the celebration. Next to him, his mother and aunt talk about always being present at the celebrations.
“I was surprised by the many languages used at mass,” commented a volunteer from the Holy Land, who had never taken part in one of the Custody’s celebrations before. “In this inspiring place, it is good to see so many people and so many friars from around the world together.”

Beatrice Guarrera

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