Close Enough…

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

In Israel, when we arrived at Tabgha, our guide shared that this is the place where many believe Jesus fed the multitudes with a few fish and loaves of bread. As we drove off to the next site, I nuzzled into my seat on the bus. It had been a long day and I wondered 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 for perhaps four centuries. Egeria, a Spanish pilgrim from 380 C.E., wrote her observations when she visited this place. She’d found rock formations which were considered memorials of the 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 is possible that all three events occurred 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 his 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 also wasn’t a place Jesus visited after he rose from the dead. His assertion that there is life after this life lives on regardless.

At the end of 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.

Being there for one another is just as important these days. Though we must engage in social distancing for all of our safety, we can get closer via a phone call, a text, a note or an email. Be creative and share the love!

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

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Where or What?

Then, taking the five loaves and two fish, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven,
pronounced a blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to distribute.

Mark 6:41

Tabgha is a small town just two miles from Capernaum which Jesus and his disciples likely frequented. Though many tours highlight Tabgha as the site of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fish, it is more likely to have happened in nearby Bethsaida. The confusion began with Egeria, a Spanish pilgrim from 380 C.E. She found rock formations which were considered memorials of the Sermon on the Mount, the feeding with loaves and fishes and one of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to the apostles. Though it’s possible that these events occurred in Tabgha, modern scholars have determined that this is likely not the case.

As for me, being in the general vicinity of these events was quite enough. The location of Jesus’ activities means far less to me than all that he did. Though Jesus probably didn’t offer his Sermon on the Mount in this place, he certainly taught with every word and deed wherever he walked. Though the loaves and fish may not have fed five thousand in this place, Jesus certainly exhibited his compassion wherever he was. Perhaps this isn’t one of the places Jesus visited after he rose from the dead. Nonetheless, his assertion that there is life after this life lives on.

In addition to this inspiration, Tabgha’s Church of the Loaves and Fishes offers a tangible symbol of Jesus’ impact. The current church is built over the site of the original structure. It features amazing 5th century mosaics. This artwork includes a lovely depiction of a basket with four loaves of bread with two fish at its side. Our guide shared that, though the scriptures report that five loaves were multiplied, this artist offered only four. Our guide shared that the artist’s purpose was to elicit interest in that missing loaf. In the artist’s mind, the fifth loaf is the Body of Christ ever-present among us.

Dear God, though we’re not certain of where Jesus did all that he accomplished, we are certain that he changed everything for the good of us all. Thank you!

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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