We are finally here. It is Sunday evening as I write this post, and frankly, I’m barely able to keep my eyes open as I reflect on the fullness of this day. Our journey began this morning with a stop at Caesarea, a city on the coast of Israel, just North of Tel Aviv. You may remember this as the city that King Herod built, the ruthless king who murdered the innocents of Israel, and built the temple in Jerusalem. Walking among the ruins was incredible, and walking through the remnants of the King’s palace, looking out over the Mediterranean, I could imagine Paul looking longingly toward Rome as he spent time in prison in that very place.
From there, we travelled to Megiddo, the thousands year-old city built by King Solomon. A site of many ancident battles, including several recorded in our Old Testament, archaelogists have determined that this strategic point in the region’s first international travel route has been rebuilt no fewer than twenty-six times. Standing on the hill-top, I was looking out across the great valley that stretches south toward Samaria toward the city of Nazareth. Before me, I could imagine thousands of years of biblical history playing out before my eyes, from the great battles with the Philistines to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the healing of the ten lepers that he encountered on his way to Jerusalem.
We ended our day with a long stop in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. We stood on top of the hill that tradition says is the same hill that the townspeople tried to throw Jesus off after he preached his first sermon there in the synagogue. Off in the distance, was Mt. Tabor, the mountain on top of which Jesus was transfigured. On the opposite side, we looked out over the city, where we could clearly see the Church of the Annunciation.
It was here that we spent our last moments. It is difficult to describe the feeling I had when I walked through the huge copper door that led inside. In the center of the room, mass was underway.