On Saturday 8th October, on the shores of Lake Tiberias, in Capharnaum, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton presided the celebration that commemorates the presence, the preaching and the miracles of Jesus, exactly where these events took place.
Capharnaum is a special place for Christians, because what is written on the pages of the Gospel can be “seen” here. The name of the village occurs many times as a place where Jesus was active: his preaching, teaching, miracles and healings took place here. It was here that Jesus lived as a guest in the house of Peter and of Andrew, and it was here that he called the first disciples to join him. No fewer than five out of the twelve apostles came from Capharnaum. This is why through the experience of this place it is possible to live the truth of the Gospel in even more intensely and live one’s faith even more deeply.
During this event – as per tradition - the Custos and the friars of the Custody led pilgrims and faithful in a long procession that wound through the places where the most important evangelical events took place: on the shores of the lake, the arrival of Jesus in Capharnaum from Nazareth, with the preaching for the conversion and his calling the first apostles; near the synagogue, where the Lord pronounced the words on the bread of life referred to the Eucharist and lastly, close to the house of St Peter, where the Lord lived and healed this apostle’s mother-in-law and many other invalids.
The celebration of the Eucharist took place in the large square in front of the Memorial, inaugurated on 29th June 1990 above the house of St Peter. Father Ibrahim Alsabagh, parish priest of the Franciscan community of Nazareth, during the homily, took the occasion to recall that “every home must become like Peter’s home, a house of faith, a house of prayer, where knowledge of God is welcomed and cultivated, where we work and where we remember that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The invitation to the Christian community is therefore to rediscover, in every home and in every family the presence of Jesus in the daily life of work and prayer. Fr. Tomasz Dubiel, the new Guardian of the community of Capharnaum, underlines “how Jesus was welcomed by the crowd, and how our presence here today also means that we want to welcome Jesus into our hearts and make our faith stronger, to be able to return to a new life, like the woman who was healed in the Gospel.”
At the end of the celebration, animated by the voices of the choir of Nazareth, large baskets of fruit were blessed, to remember the Eucharist and to give thanks to God for everything we have received from his goodness in the last harvest of the year. The gifts of the creation were then joyously offered by the Custos Father to all the participants in the celebration, as a symbol of communion and sharing between people.
Lastly, Fr. Francesco Patton thanked Fr. Tomasz Dubiel for the intense work he had done with the community of Capharnaum and for having allowed a warm welcome for the numerous participants (including many priests, deacons and acolytes, but above all faithful from the parishes of Nazareth, Jerusalem, Cana, Akko and other religious congregations). Their conspicuous presence at the celebration shows how important Capharnaum still is today for all the Christians of the Holy Land, who here, also thanks to the archaeological campaigns of the Franciscans in recent years, can truly live and breathe in the places of Jesus.