Saturday, 2 June 2012

Numbers - and I don't mean the book in the OT

There is something almost quite decadent about starting a post by saying you're sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee... It felt solast night. Today has been our first full day of visits to sacred sites.

The thing that struck me as we went round was the significance of numbers in our society/cultures.  We started with the number 8 on the Mount of the Beatitudes.  There are 8 saying in the famous Sermon on the Mount and we were shown a modern mosaic whereby the current earthly Jerusalem is linked to the heavenly city by angels carrying the words of the sermon. 

Then we went on to Capernaum where the remains of a house church - said to belong to St Peter's mother-in-law - were found to be octagonal or eight-sided.  The new rather futuristic church on top of it is eight-sided and this echoing of the number rang in my mind.

Then it was off to the seven springs at Tabgha - the site where the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is said to have taken place.  Seven springs, two hot which produced algae which drew in the fish... Then the twelve baskets of leftovers and the 5000 was really more likely to be 12000 - as women and children weren't counted....

More numbers!  Our last stop before lunch was Mensa Christi - the Table of Christ.  Here we read the story of the risen Jesus preparing a fish barbecue for breakfast.  I had never heard why 153 fish - which is what they caught - was so significant before.  It is a mystical number in Judaism.  A number that points to God.

Lunch was delicious, fillets of freshwater fish and lashings of pickled salads. The fresh bread was so soft, perfect with the unbelievable hummus!

But we been fed spiritually too.  Mass by the shore of the Galilee... birdsong to accompany our singing.  Crickets to tap out our silent prayers.  A trip on the water beckoned and in the silence after more from the Bible it was impossible not to be moved by the beauty and serenity, the peace and awesome splendour of the landscape...

Of course the land looks different now but the shape of those hills and the foliage that covers them echo back to the time when Christ walked and preached, lived and healed there..

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