Homily preached at the Church of the Good Shepherd, January 30, 2011, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
From ancient times, Christians have been visiting an area of rolling hills overlooking the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. There a church was built as early as the Fourth Century to mark the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount. According to tradition, it was here that Jesus taught the Beatitudes, which we just heard in today’s Gospel reading.
The modern church that sits on this site was built in 1938. It’s a small, octagonal church with a central dome. The surroundings are expansive and vast. From a plaza beneath the church you can sit and look out over the Sea of Galilee. It is so easy to imagine listening to Jesus teach in the open air.
I’ve been to that spot three times, leading pilgrimages. Generally I would take the group into the Church, and we would listen to the same Gospel reading we’ve just heard, sitting in a circle around the altar. After a short period of reflection, we would go outside and discuss what the Beatitudes meant to us. (more…)