Friday, May 27, 2011

What is the Mount of Beatitudes Like?

Where did Jesus actually deliver the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7)?

On the third day of our pilgrimage, we visited the traditional Mount of the Beatitudes, a high hill on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee between Magdala (to the south) and Caphernaum (to the north).  Although 100% certainty is not possible, this mount is a likely candidate for the location of Jesus' sermon, and has been venerated as such since at least the fourth century.  Even if it is not the exact location, it has to be close.

Many outdoor sanctuaries are available at the site for Mass, as the peaceful and beautiful location is very conducive to prayer.  The Sea of Galilee is clearly visible to the west.  The area is well-watered and verdant, and swarming with birds, especially different varieties of swallows and sparrows.  On the accompanying video, the bird calls are clearly audible.  Being there certainly added a certain tangible impact to the following words from the Sermon:

Matt 5:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?  28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;  29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 
Human nature being what it is, however, the religious sisters who maintain the site have felt it necessary to protect this place of peace and freedom with a whole host of regulations.

I found the prohibition of picnics (see above, on the tree, lower left) particularly amusing, since this is very close to the place where Jesus multiplied the loaves!

Plus, the outdoor celebration of Mass might qualify as a "Heavenly Picnic"! :)

In any event, the Christian life is no picnic (Rom 8:17) , so perhaps the good sisters had a deeper message ...

1 comment:

Matthew Kennel said...

So Jesus was giving a covenant law on a mountain, and the mountain looks like a modern day Eden? That seems about right :)