There are few places in Israel more ‘ground zero’ to Christianity than the Mt. of Beatitudes on the shores of the Galilean Sea, the subject of this month’s video blog. It is in this beauty-filled place that historians think Christ Jesus gave a sermon that included the core teachings of what it is to be part of the community of believers, of Christ’s Church.
The heart of this teaching, called “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7), are the Beatitudes. These eight verses, unified by their common beginning of ‘blessed’ (makarios in Greek), address an objective–not subjective–state of happiness. Moving far beyond an emotional state of happiness, Jesus pointed his followers to an objective reality of being spiritually enriched because of one’s citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Christians have made pilgrimages to this sacred site since the 4th century, the first thought to be an Italian woman, Egeria. Visiting in 380, she wrote to her Christian community back home, “Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Savior climbed and spoke the Beatitudes.” A 4th-century Byzantine church was built to commemorate the site, featuring an unusual octagonal floor, in honor of the eight Beatitudes. The modern Catholic church (in this photo and the video blog) was built in 1936, near the 4th-century Byzantine ruins.
We hope this month’s two-minute video blog gives you, too, the feeling of peace and serenity felt on a recent visit.
Regardless of whether this is the exact spot where Jesus Christ delivered this Sermon on the Mount, or one nearby, the sense of elevation over the sea, the shady trees and the tranquility all make it likely that here was first heard the Sermon to stand through the ages. And now we get on with trying to live it more.