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Mount of the Beatitudes - Tabga - Capernaum
24 March 2000 - pm

While at the site where this morning His Holiness celebrated the Holy Eucharist with the thousands of youths who have flocked to the area from all corners of the earth the dance and music went on and on, His Holiness, in the popemobil left to down to the sanctuary of the Beatitudes which lies just a short distance away. This sanctuary is a relatively modern sanctuary built to replace an ancient one which lied at Tabgha next to the Shrines of the Multiplication of Loaves and that of the Primacy of Peter. The modern sanctuary is entrusted to the care of the Franciscan Sisters. Here in the afternoon His Holiness had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. A cordial meeting which continued to build on the impetus which the Pope's visit has given to the relationship between Jews and Christians. The Prime Minister held a Press Conference in which he described these historic moments as moments of change and that after this visit the relations between Jews and Christians will change not only in the State of Israel but throughout the world. After this metting the Pope started off to his private visit to the shrines on the Lake. This lake of Tiberias, Kinneret or Genesaret is the lake which witnessed the public ministry of Jesus. It was on its shores that the Lord passed and called to him the disciples. A lake on which Jesus himself used to go out fishing and where he presented himself after his Resurrection.

His Holiness arrived at the first sanctuary in the area of Tabgha a sanctuary commemorating the Multiplication of Loaves today entrusted to the German Benedictine Monks. This shrine rises on the remains of the Byzantine shrines built to commemorate the event recounted in the Gospels: "When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, 'Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!' Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 'Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?' Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten" (John 6:5-13) .

From here the pope went to the Franciscan shrine of the Primacy of Peter, directly on the shores of the Lake. Even this small church rises on the site of ancient remains commemorating the meeting of Jesus with his disciples after His resurrection and the primacy of Peter: " Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." (John 21:4-18).

After visiting this site the Pope was driven to Capernaum "The Town of Jesus" as the Gospels call it. Here he visited the House of Peter, the house where Jesus too lived and after some moments of prayer the Pope blessed a new bronze statue of St. Peter while Created by sculptor and designer Charles Madden of Philadelphia. Madden has also designed a chalice for the Holy Father , the vestments worn by the world's cardinals for the 1976 Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia, and a bronze piece of Mary for the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. The one-ton bronze statue of St. Peter stands in the "meditation garden" upon a rock evoking the words of Jesus to Peter: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church".

The Pope returned to Jerusalem for the night.

Created / Updated Friday, March 24, 2000 at 20:32:01