Just Being There

Upon disembarking Jesus saw a vast crowd.
He pitied them for they were like sheep without a shepherd
and he began to teach them at great length.

Mark 6:34

I admit that I had no idea of where we were headed when our guide announced that we were on our way to Tabgha. Fortunately for me, he quickly added that this is the place where many believe Jesus fed the multitudes. As I nuzzled into my seat on the bus, I considered that long ago day. What was it like to be among the crowds who saw all that Jesus did? What must it have been like to get to know him more personally?

A community of Jewish Christians likely occupied the area from Jesus’ time, perhaps for four centuries. Egeria, a Spanish pilgrim from 380 C.E., wrote her observations when she visited. She’d found rock formations which were considered memorials of three events which occurred there: the Sermon on the Mount, the feeding with loaves and fishes and a post-resurrection appearance to the apostles. Though it’s possible that all three happened as was believed, modern scholars suggest that this may not be the case.

Once again, I found that the location of Jesus’ activities meant far less to me than all that he did. Though Jesus may not have taught in this place, he certainly taught with every word and deed wherever he walked. Though the loaves and fish may not have fed a full five thousand that day, Jesus certainly exhibited his compassion for the people in a memorable way. Perhaps this isn’t a place Jesus visited after he rose from the dead. His assertion that there is life after this life lives on regardless.

As we returned to the bus that day, I gave thanks for this opportunity to walk where Jesus walked, to breathe the air Jesus breathed and to see the sights Jesus saw. Whether as near as his closest friends or as distant as the crowds who watched from afar, simply being there mattered to me.

Dear God, thank you for the gift of Jesus’ life among us.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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