Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, the human condition has been weak. Instead of living forever, the body and mind both age and die. During that lifetime, we constantly fall, through selfishness and sin.
Why did Jesus come into the world? To abolish sin and death, to take on the weak human frame, to suffer and to sacrifice himself, in other words, to replace that human weakness with love itself. God is love. We are made in his image and likeness therefore we are love too. But we fall, often.
If anyone ever doubts the Gospels, they should look again at how often St Peter’s failings are recorded, the most infamous of which was his three-fold denial of Jesus during his passion. For each of his denials, Jesus suffered on the road to Calvary by falling under the weight of that and all our sins. If the Gospels were false, those putting together the New Testament could have airbrushed out all Peter’s failings. But they didn’t.
On a recent trip to Rome, I had the privilege of taking part in the Scavi tour, a tour of the excavations below St Peter’s. The climax was the opportunity for prayer in the presence of St Peter’s remains – and there is compelling evidence to witness that these are the actual remains.
To be in the presence of a weak man whom Jesus appointed as his rock on which he would build his community, was beyond awesome, beyond any human expression. There was a point at which I felt the veil between heaven and earth was wafer thin. Peter was in the throne room of heaven, but present here also, in the depths of the earth.
The purpose of our life is to become holy, to become love itself so that we too might one day dwell in the sight of the Lord.
For more information on the Scavi tour see http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0735.html