It’s Day 21 in the Rome Experience, half way point of the program and we visited what many people would consider something terribly unimpressive.
It’s a little light shining into a hole several feet directly under the main altar of the Catholic Church’s premier basilica. As I looked into this light, I thought of the antiphon from the Office of the Dead: The bones that were crushed shall leap for joy before the LORD.
For what I was looking at was the tomb of someone who did not have a high paying job, he left his family to follow a man from Nazareth and was the leader of this group of disciples. He often questioned his leader, yet remained faithful. When his leader was arrested, he denied him three times and wept bitterly. Yet, his LORD would ask him three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21.15) The tomb contain the bones of the one who would strengthen his brothers and build up the Church. YES! the little light that I gazed on this afternoon in prayer is believed to be the very tomb of Peter, the bones of this great and marvelous saint!!
Today, I stood before that holy place and moved by God’s love, I prayed for Pope Benedict XVI and the Church and stood in awe that God brought me before the remains of the one person he promised to build up the Church and whom the powers of hell would never prevail. And we lay claim to the unbroken succession of this Rock.
Yes, to the average tourist, this would be terrible unimpressive, but for those who believe, for pilgrims … it’s home, it’s the culmination of a pilgrimage! It’s our faith celebrated in the Rock which Christ promised to build his Church.
Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!