Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Pilgrim's Journey: The Wedding Feast

23 December 2019

"Together we fall in love with God and together we surrender to God’s purposes."
~Bishop Robert Barron~
On our third day in the Holy Land, I woke up with a very bright smile on my face. It was our flock's turn to animate the liturgy for the couples who will be renewing their marriage vows.

We prepared the songs over dinner and I downloaded several others as Mass fillers.

The wedding theme thrilled me endlessly [til the end of the day]… 

The moment we stepped at Cana, I was caught by our pilgrim guides' surprise ... a part of the wedding celebration is a reception afterwards at the winery nearby.

Kafr Cana 

The Shrine of Our Lord's First Miracle at the Wedding in Cana of Galilee

We had five couples who renewed their wedding vows. My parents had theirs here in 2017.

I felt blessed to visit churches under the custody of the Franciscans. The first ones were the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of the Transfiguration. That being said, I only realized that we were celebrating the 800th year of St. Francis' pilgrimage of peace in the Holy Land. 

It was home where the Franciscans are, and a Filipino nun was there to assist us.

Our pilgrim group with Fr. Arnie Boehme, OCD

We went to Daniel's after the Mass where a beautifully adorned wedding cake and wine awaited all of us. 

It was a simple celebration which we all enjoyed. I imagined what wines would have been like in Jesus' time. The one we tasted here was really good. 

I bought one wedding wine as exchange gift for Christmas.

The five brides were asked to cut the cake.
Kaphr Naum
We then proceeded to Capernaum, Jesus' hometown, where He taught and healed during His time. It was also the home of his first disciples.


This modern church called memorial was built over St. Peter's house and resembled a boat.

The interior of the Memorial houses the foundations of an octagonal 5th-century church visible through the glass floor. It was an amazing sight. 

The sacra insula
Among the places we visited, this looked close to "home"... the ruins brought memories and were kept here.

The Synagogue

The Church of the Beatitudes

The church marks the site [traditionally believed to be] where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. The eight sides of the church represented the eight Beatitudes. Inside, the mosaics running through the tabernacle are the seven virtues [chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility].


The Filipino version of the Beatitudes caught my attention. 

I was struck by what our country did for the Vietnamese who fled communism in 1975. Kindness has its rewards.

"This memorial stone is established in thanksgiving to the people of the Philippines who lived the BEATITUDES by welcoming hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese "Boat People" into both of the refugee camps in Palawan and Bataan for 20 years (1975-1995) as first asylum seekers, as they fled the communists after April 30, 1975."

Yes, the Lord sent not only His blessings to us but for our country as well.

The Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, Tabgha

We venerated the Mensa Christi or Table of Christ and touched the limestone where Jesus [according to traditions] had a meal with His disciples shortly after His Resurrection. 

There was another version of the Mensa Christi on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was also in this place that Jesus reinstated Peter.

While we were having our Scripture Reading [Jn 21,15-19] inside the church, I was struck a second time when the Lord asked Peter three times if he loved Him. 

Three times love was asked and three times Peter replied, "Yes, Lord, You know that I love You." And yet the Lord was seeking "agape [sacrificial love]," in which Peter replied all three with philos [love for a friend]. 

What struck me was the third time the Lord asked if He was loved... He went down to Peter's claim of "friendly love" for that was all Peter could give at that moment.

And it was the same with me... I broke down into tears and held on to that moment. I was ready to die for Him when I left home at twenty. I was driven by pride. But here I was,  in the very same place where Jesus asked Peter if He was loved... and what love did I offer Him?

I looked at my flockmates enjoying the Sea of Galilee... I begged for the same humility.

As a finale to our blessed love-filled day full of promises and hope, we visited a jewelry store ...

where we celebrated Hannukah [Festival of Lights] with the lighting of the menorah, Hannukah song and jelly doughnuts.

Diamonds are known to symbolize "forever" ... and the only forever I know is true love.

As we went back to the hotel, I was filled with gratitude towards my flockmates and co-pilgrims. I learned a lot about love and loving from other people's perspectives and I reflected on them [love for couples... love of widows... and what is love for single celibates?]...  

"If we are simply looking for love period, that won’t be enough.  We will be looking for love at all the wrong places…"
 ~Bishop Barron~

I thanked the Lord for entrusting the day to our flock... we were single and one is yet to be married. My co-pilgrims at lunch were also widows and they recounted their love stories and shared their sentiments when the five couples renewed their marriage vows that morning... I realized that love transcends death... I felt their love for their husband. I also remembered the wisdom of those who understood those who chose to live a single life [in Christ].

I recounted that it was in Cana that Jesus performed His first miracle and ....
He continues to work miracles...  
I awaited mine...

"We should be looking for God's will and find somebody who is as in love as we are with that purpose."
~Bishop Robert Barron~

"Everyone serves good wine first... but you have kept the good wine until now..." 
~ Jn 2, 10


  1. Oh, how moving all of this heartfelt post is, Melissa! You've shared an incomparable journey with all of us here, and I can say you have certainly inspired and strengthened my spiritual growth. And yes, God continues to work miracles in this day and time. May our eyes be opened to see them all.

    1. Thank you so much Martha! I appreciate all your kind words and how my journey in Israel strengthens you. Yes, may we be open to receive the graces and the miracles He provides us amidst the situations we are all facing. God bless you always+

  2. These photos are amazing! You really brought the places you visited close to us. And what a pleasant surprise it must have been to see that a surprise “Daniel” was waiting for you there too ☺️.

    1. Everything there serves its purpose. We are all in this journey together... God brings us all closer to each other ... never distant... never too far. God bless little brother+