As you can see, it is the ruins of a massive man-made port town. The brainchild of Herod the Great, it was thriving by the time Jesus was a young boy, although we don't have any record of him being there. St. Paul, on the other hand, was held there for two years before his final inprisonment and martyrdom in Rome. Although the ancient city is now in ruins, it was amazingly easy to imagine the pagan glory--and eventually the Byzantine, Christian glory--of the city. I imagine Cornelius the Centurion relaxing here when the angel told him to send to Joppa, a few miles to the south, for St. Peter. See the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, I think.
Then we went to Mt Carmel, farther to the north, and still on the Mediterranean Sea. I prayed in the cave where Elijah the prophet prayed, and from where he saw the small cloud that foretold the end of the draught in 1 Kings 10. A few miles to the east along the Mt Carmel mountain range, I prayer at the place called 'The Sacrifice," where Elijah out-dueled the 450 prophets of Ba'al, and then slain then by the river in the Valley of Jezreel, pictured below.Finally, we had Mss in Nazareth, and walked around a bit. Jesus grew up in a hilly little town! And so did Our Lady. Seeing the cave where the Angel Gabriel came to Mary was breathtaking. I prayed for all the women in my life there: my mom, sisters, friends, students at Xavier, parishioners, etc.
Tonight I write from atop a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and I'll make this home-base for three days. The air is lush and warm, and bursting with the scent of orange blossoms and flowers, as was Narazeth. It was a spitting image (as far as a smell can be an image) of the Arcadia neighborhood where I grew up in Arizona. It was uncanny. That, I can say is one thing I have in common with Our Lord: we both grew up smelling, and eating, oranges.