When 6:00 pm finally arrives, the wind gusts offer some relief to the 100-degree August heat, and I am ready to dip my feet into the refreshing waters of the Sea of Galilee. What a day! Non-stop tours: Baptists from Atlanta, Georgia; Evangelicals from Sweden; Anglicans from the UK; Catholics from Mexico and Peru; four French families; a Brazilian group; Jewish archaeologists interested in a deeper study of the site.
As a child I wanted to travel the world. Little did I know that one day the world would come to me. In college, I was struck by the passage of Jesus telling his apostles, “Come and I will make you fishers of men.” Little did I know that the Lord would fill my nets to bursting with people from all over the world!
Jesus told his apostles, “Go out into all the world and preach the good news” (Mark 16:15). But perhaps nowadays, in Magdala, he would say, “I will send the world to you so you may witness to the good news.”
“Jesus teaches us that the Good News, which he brings, is not reserved to one part of humanity, it is to be communicated to everyone” (Pope Francis, Angelus, January 26, 2014). From the four corners of the world, people come to Magdala.
In 2016 we welcomed 70,000 visitors from over 100 different countries around the world. This year we project to reach 100,000 visitors. The unexpected gift of being custodians to the hometown of Mary Magdalene now offers us an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus, who is very much alive among us. The good news is transmitted through the joyful welcome, through an explanation of the first-century synagogue, and through invitations to pray for those in need of healing in our Encounter chapel.
In this way we live out Jesus’ mandate and have the privilege of doing our small part in the re-evangelization of the world. — By Jennifer Ristine