Our first stop today was the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, less than an hour from Pilgerhaus. We spent the major portion of the day walking the sacred site.
At the bronze doors of the basilica were bas reliefs depicting scripture passages and saints, some related to the place, others of people connected to Jesus’ life.
Once inside, we walked around and viewed the Grotto of the Annunciation, the spot believed to be where Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel to ask her cooperation in God’s plan of salvation.
From the lower basilica, we came to the upper basilica where we would celebrate the Mass of the Annunciation at 11:00 AM.
We continued on to the Church of St. Joseph, a short walk from the basilica, and the home of the Holy Family.
We celebrated Mass at the main altar of the upper basilica. Pope John Paul II celebrated mass here in 2000. A short reflection on the place and event: When God comes knocking and you say yes, prepare for turmoil and chaos. Those who oppose God’s ways will oppose you too. Be assured God will not leave you to face your troubles alone. Remember Thomas Merton’s prayer?
After lunch at the Casa Nova of Nazareth, a historic pilgrim guest house just opposite the basilica, we hit the road for Cana, a 20 minute ride.
At the Franciscan Church at Cana we invited married couples to renew their wedding vows, complete with photos at the altar and a celebratory “kiss the bride/groom.”
In the floor on one side of the church was a sign indicating a marker under the floor (visible through a glass pane).
Upon concluding the service of renewal of vows, we descended to the lower level where was enshrined a stone jar (not likely from the time of Jesus) which was used for ceremonial washing, where Jesus performed his first sign changing water into wine (120-180 gallons from six 20-30 gallon stone jars).
Remember Mary’s advice to the servants who waited instructions after she informed Jesus that “They have no wine.” Jesus retorted, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” Speaking to the servants, she said, “Do whatever he tells you,” and walked away. She knew he wouldn’t let her down. And in that instant she inevitably sent her own Son to the cross.
Tomorrow we venture up to Kfar Nakhum and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Rolo B Castillo © 2023