From what we know, Jesus did most of his teaching and performed most of his miracles in the small Jewish towns on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. He seldom went beyond them, except for brief trips to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feasts and excursions to places like Caesarea Philippi.
Capernaum on the sea was where he made his home, in the Peter’s house, after his baptism by John. He cured the paralyzed man there, the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law. Not far away, he multiplied the loaves and fish. He taught on the nearby hills and along the lakeshore. Today Capernaum is a center for pilgrims to the Holy Land who can roam through the remains of the town and see the ruins of its homes, its beautiful synagogue, and Peter’s house itself.
Bethsaida, where a number of Jesus’ disciples came from, was a fishing village just to the north of Capernaum. Chorazin was a village in the hills, close by. These places have been uncovered by archeologists in recent years. If you say a miracle of Jesus you remember happened in this area, you will probably be right.
This was the center of Jesus’ ministry. He revealed himself here in these small villages, settled mostly by ordinary Jews, with some gentiles, like the Roman centurion, residing there too.
Yet, after receiving him with great enthusiasm, the people of this area seemed to turn from him. People who saw him up close, who saw his powerful deeds and heard him speak, who may have benefited themselves from a miracle, rejected him.
St. John’s gospel speaks about this mystery: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God…”
Is their rejection a warning to us? Is it a call to receive him and renew our belief in him so that we are empowered to become children of God?
- Fr. Victor Hoagland, C.P.