We awoke to a calm morning by the Sea of Galilee today and prepared to journey to Cana and Nazareth.
First stop was the site of Jesus' first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana, where the married couples in the group renewed their vows by the well. It was such a joy to see these spouses embracing as they reaffirmed their vows, saying: 'Whatever the future holds, I will love you and stand by you, as long as we both shall live'.
It was not only married couples renewing their vows today. Sr Petronia Williams who has joined us on the pilgrimage is celebrating her Golden Jubilee. She too renewed the promises she made half a century ago.
With great joy, we continued our journey to Nazareth to the Church of the Annunciation where we celebrated the Mass of the solemnity.
Fr John's homily was centered on the Holy Family. He spoke about Joseph the good man, the skilled worker, who took his responsibility to his family seriously.
He also spoke of St Joseph the dreamer, who dreamed the dreams and hopes of the people of God: 'He was a faithful steward who saw these dreams fulfilled in Jesus,' said Fr John.
On this day of the Holy Souls, Fr John also pointed out that St Joseph is the patron of a happy death. He died in the arms of Jesus and Mary and so we remembered our own dead and prayed for them on this day, asking for St Joseph's intercession.
Mary's experience of loss too makes her the consoler of widows. We remembered all those whose spouses had died and commended them to Our Lady.
It was also right and fitting that we prayed the Prayer for England, Mary's 'dowry', as we asked her intercession: 'Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother.' While we may regularly recite this prayer for our country and for Christian unity in our own parishes at home, praying it here in Nazareth gave it special meaning here in Nazareth.
From there, it was on to the Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration. Jesus took his three disciples up the mountain where they saw his glory before he began the journey to Jerusalem towards his Passion and death on the Cross. Seeing their Master's glory gave the disciples courage to follow him to Jerusalem. As we follow in their footsteps, we too acknowledged in prayer that God 'strengthens our faith by confirming the witness of [the] prophets and by showing to us the splendour of [his] beloved Son' and we asked him to 'help us to become heirs to the eternal life' with Christ.
We now continue our journey towards the desert and the River Jordan.