Test of Faith in The Region of Tiberias
By Raymond Gasu
In the New Testament, we read so much about the region of Tiberias in the Holy Land and this is justifiably so because Jesus did live and perform many of His public activities there.
On a recent visit to the Holy Land, I was overwhelmed by what I saw at the various places in the Tiberias region that I visited.
As we recall, it was on the Sea of Galilee (also called Lake of Gennesaret, or Lake Tiberias) that Jesus met and called his first four apostles, who were working as ordinary fishermen. Gazing over the vast sea, I wondered what my response would have been if I was in the shoes of these first apostles. They left everything and followed Jesus. It was also on this sea that Jesus walked and calmed storms. On a boat ride on the sea, I was tempted to jump off and try to walk on it as Jesus did. But did I have faith that was strong enough to make this possible?
It was along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (at Tabgha) that Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and fish. On the site of this miracle stands a Catholic Church (Church of the Multiplication). The marble tiles in front of the altar depict a basket of loaves and fishes. Did those who ate the bread to their satisfaction believe in the Man who made this possible? Do I believe in the bread that I receive in the Holy Communion as the body of Christ? Not far from the site where the multitude was fed was the location where Jesus asked Peter to “feed my sheep”. The Catholic Church (Church of the Primacy of St. Peter) at this location still has a large rock said to be the table of Christ on which Jesus served breakfast to His apostles in front of its altar. The Church itself is only a few meters from the Sea of Galilee. Do I love Jesus Christ in the same way that St. Peter did?
Then, was the town of Capernaum, where Jesus settled after leaving Nazareth. The Catholic Church in the town of Capernaum, St. Peter's Church (also called the Pilgrimage Church of St. Peter in Capernaum), is built over the ruins of older Churches, part of which is believed to have been the home of St. Peter. In the courtyard stands a giant statue of St. Peter, with the back of the statue to the Sea of Galilee.
At the entrance to the town of Capernaum is a statue of the “homeless” Jesus, a sight that touched my heart and got me thinking of how more I could do to help others in my own community. It is also in Capernaum that our Lord gave the sermon on the Bread of Life, (John 6:22-59).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy”. We visited the Mount of Beatitudes, a very serene place with a Catholic Church (Church of the Beatitudes) having the Sea of Galilee in its background from where Jesus delivered the “Sermon on the Mount”. I pray for grace from the Lord to be able to meet the conditions that guarantee these promises.
Jesus also cured many sick people while working in this region. Notable among them were: Simon’s mother-in- law (Mk 1:29-31), a paralytic (Mk 2: 11- 12, Lk 5: 17-25), a leper (Lk 5:12-16) and the centurion’s servant (Lk 7: 1-10). All these cures happened because of the faith of the people involved. I pray for an increase in my faith and that of all Christians!