Saturday, 9 February 2013

The Wonder and Beauty of Nazareth

Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Martima
Our first stop today was at the ancient coastal city of Caesarea Maritima. It was a city that Herod the Great had built to increase his coastal defenses and commerce with the rest of the Mediterranean. It is the place where Pontus Pilate had his home and headquarters (he only went to Jerusalem 3 times a year for festival gatherings and crowd control). More importantly it was the place of the first gentile Christian baptism; where Peter had the vision that all food is clean and that the Christian Way is also for the Gentiles; and one of the places where Paul was imprisoned. It is also interesting to note that Saints Jerome, Eusibius, and Origin all lived at some point at Caesarea Maritima because of its learning culture. 

Some of the Ancient ruins at Caesarea Maritima

Caesarea Maritima is has a beautiful beach on the Mediterranean Sea.

Mount Carmel

Our next stop was at the top of Mount Carmel to the Carmelite Monastery. Mount Carmel is the place where the prophet Elijah slaughtered 400 of the prophets of Baal, and challenged the Israelites to return to their faith in Yahweh.


The view of the valley from on top of this mountain is breathtaking, looking down unto the valley and the river.

The view from on top of Mount Carmel


Nazareth. Mary and Joseph’s home. The place where Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit. The place where Jesus grew up. In ancient times, Nazareth was not a good place to come from because it was so small and of no account. Only a couple of hundred people lived there at the time of Jesus. 

The experts seem to have little doubt that the cave under the Church of the Annunciation was the place of the home of the Holy Family.

The cave that was the home of the Holy Family in Nazareth

I sat and prayed in this spot for some time. Mary conceived of the Holy Spirit very near to this sacred place. After the birth in Bethlehem, they returned to raise Jesus in this very place (except for their journey into Egypt to protect Jesus’ life from Herod). Nazareth was their home. 

Not far from here is the ancient well for the town of Nazareth. Mary would have lived much of her life going back and forth from her home to this well in the morning and afternoons. It is wonderful to imagine the Holy Family in the small town of Nazareth living a daily ordinary life in what was a very small town. 

Mary's Well in Nazareth

As I sat before the Holy Shrine of the Annunciation, I was remembering Mary’s total vulnerability and openness to God’s Divine Life. She models for the spiritual path to Incarnation - to becoming aware of God’s Spirit, God’s very Life, within us. God with us. With every human being. Everywhere.

Church and Shrine of the Annunciation

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