Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tu es Christus ...

One the most amazing things I've done in Rome so far was the Scavi tour. You can explore the Scavi online here. Back in the 1930's Jesuit archaeologists began excavating under St. Peter's to try to locate the bones of St. Peter. Tradition has always maintained that under the main altar is where St. Peter was buried. We do know that he was crucified upside down near the vatican hill. All the history is very fascinating, but for me what was the most impressive was the whole experience.

After descending and moving underneath St. Peter's for over an hour we came into a chamber. From this chamber we could see the bones of St. Peter. I knew that it would be impressive, but I didn't think it would be as powerful as it was. The seminarian tour guide read for us from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 16.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
It was so awesome to realize that the bones of the man in front of me two thousand years ago in the district of Caesarea Philippi said: "You are the Christ, the son of the living God". To think that Peter, who even denied Jesus during his passion, went on to preach the gospel all the way to Rome where he died for Christ.

Later that day, during expostion of the Blessed Sacrament, I was reflecting on my experience when I realized not only am I blessed to have seen the bones of the prince of the apostles, but how much more am I blessed that every day I get to receive the Lord of the of the prince of the apostles. The very man Peter knew as the Christ. Of course the physical relics of a saint are powerful reminders indeed, but the Eucharist we receive and adore in every Catholic church around the world is what the saints truly lived and died for.

Sancte Pietri et Pauli, orate pro nobis.

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