It was very interesting to visit Capernaum and to be able to focus on this as being the place where Jesus spent a lot of his time and did a lot of his teaching and performed a lot of his miracles. We were able to see some of the ruins, including the ruin of the Synagogue that will have been the one that Jesus taught in. We were reminded that to start praying in a Synagogue you need ten men - you can’t start the prayer without that but Jesus said “that where two or three are gathered”. There is no gender requirement and a much lower number - he says where there are two or three “I am there”. God is of course ‘I am’ and we might compare Paul’s comment that we are all one in Christ Jesus.
As we looked at the Capernaum ruins we could imagine such incidents as the man being lowered down through the roof in order to get close to Jesus. The houses were clearly very small and it would not take many people to fill them up. There were also the remains of an adjacent army barracks, a reminder of the proximity of the occupying forces, with all its negative and positive connotations. The Capernaum synagogue was sponsored by the Roman centurion whose servant Jesus healed, a story that reminds us of the inter-action that would be necessary between different communities, no matter what they thought of each other. Capernaum was also where Simon Peter's mother-in-law lived and this may well have been his base, adjacent, as it is, to the lake. Capernaum would have been an ordinary villages that played host to some extraordinary events. That's what happens when God engages with humanity.