During the Mass when Pope Benedict XVI received the Pallium and the Fisherman’s Ring for the beginning of his Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome, he said the following: “Only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.”
The Fisherman’s Ring bestowed to Benedict XVI as the 265th Vicar of Christ is named after the first Pope, Peter the Fisherman. Peter met Christ by the Sea of Galilee while he was carrying on his daily work as a fisherman. The Sea of Galilee is the largest freshwater lake in the Holy Land, approximately 13 miles long and 8 miles wide. There is an outlet from the southern part that flows into the Dead Sea. It’s still there! A Franciscan Friar living in the Holy Land said “The Sea of Galilee can be considered a sacramental, it is blessed because our Lord sanctified it with His Presence.” Imagine walking along the shore of Galilee where Jesus walked and called out to fishermen who later became his Apostles and fishers of men! Jesus told them “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17). Now think about walking along the shore of Galilee today.
When we go on a Holy Land pilgrimage, we invite the pilgrims to take a walk along the shore of Galilee in total silence, meditating on the Scripture stories about Jesus in Galilee. For many pilgrims, they are surprised by the Gospel….the Scriptures come alive for them walking in the area where they occurred. And they encounter Christ in a personal way.
There is a shore of the sea of galilee where you are…a quiet place to take time to “walk with Jesus in silence” as you meditate on the Scriptures. There you can encounter Him by prayerfully reading the Gospels and responding to His call – “Come after me….”. When we meet the Living God in Christ we know what life is!