Holy Land –  Experiencing the ‘be happy attitudes’ on the Mt of Beatitudes

Standing on the Mount of the beatitudes, on the north western shore of the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and Gennesaret I celebrated the Eucharist with 46 pilgrims. This was one of the most moving and emotional moments of my life. It is extremely humbling to be preaching the very spot that Jesus himself preached. I was overcome with emotion as I began the celebration of the Eucharist becoming painfully aware of my own unworthiness yet also recognising how blessed I am to be called to serve in his vineyard.

The actual location of the Sermon on the Mount is not certain (Matthew 5:1-7:28), but the present site has been commemorated for more than 1600 years. This hillcrest of Eremos (a Greek word meaning solitary or uninhabited) offers an enchanting vista of the northern part of the lake, the cliffs of the Golan Heights on the opposite side and also the surrounding villages. The cragginess of this hill meant it was left uncultivated and enabled Jesus to gather large crowds around him without causing damage to the farmers.

The 4th-century pilgrim Egeria (a nun) records a tradition that may go back to the Jewish-Christians of Capernaum. She tells of a cave in the hillside at the Seven Springs, near Tabgha, “upon which the Lord ascended when he taught the Beatitudes”.

Eremos’ highest point is 58 metres (190 ft) below sea level, which is approximately 155 metres (509 ft) above the surface of the lake. The Mount of Beatitudes is also understood to be the place where Jesus met his apostles after his Resurrection and commissioned them to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:16-20).

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