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Lenten Journaling in Community- #1

Kursi- Israel Pilgrimage



Kursi in the Golan Heights
                                    is an archaeological site 
containing the ruins of a Byzantine monastery 
and identified as the site 
of Jesus' Miracle of the Swine.
The site is now a National Park. 
Kursi lay unknown for many centuries until pieces 
of Byzantine pottery were noticed
 in the trail of a bulldozer constructing
 a new road to the Golan Heights in 1970.
They also found an ancient fishing
 harbor with a breakwater.
This is the largest known Byzantine 
monastery complex in Israel, 
it has been partially reconstructed.
Kursi was an important place of 
Christian pilgrimage    
from the 5th century, 
when the lakeside towns of 
Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin
 all three condemned by Jesus for their lack of faith —
 had fallen into decline.
Different Gospel manuscripts offer conflicting names 
 for the area in which the miracle took place —
 the country of the Gadarenes,
 Gerasenes, or Gergesenes.
What is certain is that the location
 was in gentile territory. 
Because Jewish dietary laws forbid 
the eating of pork, 
no Jew would have been raising pigs.
The Baptistry in the church.
 An ancient olive press gives a clue 
what the monastery sold 
to establish commerce and trade. 
The floor of the church was paved with mosaics 
 depicting animal and plant life: Roosters, geese, 
doves, cormorants, fish, grapes, figs, pomegranates, watermelon and bananas.
When the monastery was abandoned in the early 8th century 
 after being damaged by fire and earthquake, 
and invaded by Persians and Muslims —
 it was used by local Arabs to live in and house their animals.
At that time all of the animal mosaics 
were obliterated to comply with 
the Islamic prohibition against 
human or animal representations.
 The view on the East side
 of the Sea of Galilee.
Near the waterfront is now covered farming.
 The landscape on the the land side -
 East side of the Sea of Galilee.
Three  Gospels tell the story: Jesus steps out 
of a boat after crossing the lake 
and is confronted by a man possessed by demons.  
When Jesus orders the demons to leave the man,
 they beg to be allowed to enter
 a herd of swine grazing nearby. 
Jesus agrees, and the swine — numbering about 2000 — 
rush down a bank into the water and are drowned. 
(Luke 8:26-39; Mark 5:1-20; Matthew 8:28-34)
The dismayed swineherds run off to spread the news. 
 They are in big trouble for loosing the whole livelihood. 
 The local people ask Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 
The healed man begs to go with Jesus — 
but Jesus tells him to go home
 and tell his friends what has happened.
“And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis 
(probably nearby Hippos or Sausita) 
how much Jesus had done for him; 
and everyone was amazed” (Mark 5:20). 
So this gentile man becomes the first person
 commissioned by Jesus to spread
 the Good News to non-Jews.
The hills were lush and green
 on our visit here.
Various caves can be seen in the area
 that connect with the Biblical story.
Kursi is about 4 miles  
North from Ein Gev on Route 92.




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