My mother who studied Latin as a youth could tell you exactly what the meaning of these two words expressed.
She could tell you that this historically accurate novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1905, was to become the most colossal, epic movie of its day. One could argue that it still ranks top in that prestigious category.
Quo Vadis, translated, means “whither thou goest” or, in our venacular, “where are you going?” “Quo Vadis Domine?” Saint Peter asks this question of his risen Lord on a road leading out of Rome. The answer brings him back.
My talk today touches on the many choices that we have throughout our minutes, hours, days, months over the course of our existence in our homes, in this community, in this country, on this continent while on this planet. All in preparation for our real home.
Quo Vadis appeals to the crux of our unique and personal purpose throughout each of our lives. It forces us in very real ways to make conscious, brain-centered, heart-centered crucial decisions, both small and large. Time-honored reflection regarding responses to the pertinent question of Quo Vadis is a worthy pursuit.
Imagine, just for a moment or two, a magic carpet transporting you to a faraway place. However, instead of going to Disney World or Montreal, or Phoenix, you are flown back in time to Nero’s Rome. Alone, with very wind-blown hair. It is a few days after the great fire in 64AD; and, for political reasons, Nero blames those of The Way, followers of Jesus, the Christ, for setting Rome ablaze.
There is devastation of an immeasurable magnitude. A willing public from the centre of the world’s uber, super power is swayed to believe these evil assertions. The Persian rug you have been sitting on during this fascinating journey finds a landing spot inside the singed city gates. Plopped in the middle of a throng of angry, rioting Roman citizens~ a mob with blood on its mind and hate in its heart. Why this Rome, why not Rome, Georgia? And why now at this time in history?
All your senses magnify. You are on high alert. Glancing around you notice a woman about your age on her knees in the scorched earth holding a stick. She is intent on drawing something. It looks familiar, but what is it? Suddenly it becomes clear. This woman is a Christian and what she has drawn is a fish. Quickly, others of like mind surround her.
The carpet has left. Left, you are alone. Without a purse or even a comb. No hope of a latte here. Timmy’s is a distant memory. And the cell phone you are clinging to has no bars in Nero’s Rome.
In the erupting chaos you are pushed along with the crowd. Trying to gather your wits about you, your thoughts shift to that senior year World History Course. The one you slept through. Now you remember~ The coliseum, the lions, the Christians. What you didn’t read about was the incredible stench.
It is then that a soldier with a spear stops you. “Sequi Cristo, la Via?” he yells over the extreme ear-shattering noise. His roughness knows no bounds as he grabs at your throat tearing away the cross you were given by your mother at confirmation. “Sequi Cristo, la Via?”
Your fate is now sealed. You did not bargain for this. You were doing just fine, thank you, very much. And then your world took you to depths that only Cristo can reach. It is then that you have to decide. “Whither thou goest?”
“Si, ciao, mais oui, si, si”, you shout as words of affirmation scream their intention. Pushed to the ground to be stampeded by strangers, your heart explodes with joy. For, you see, you have answered life’s most important question. The question of “Quo vadis”~
And, before you know it, another magic carpet, that old shag that adorned your first home and now rests in the basement mudroom, swoops you away from the tumultuous times of Nero’s Rome. Looking back at the scene you notice the impression you left on the dusty dirt. One that you drew with your index finger. A very visible fish.
As this well-worn rug drops you into a snow heap behind your blanketed deck, your head is swirling with perceptions from an Aladdin Adventure of surreal proportions. The laundry will never seem the same again.
Quo Vadis has provided a new transformative link between sisters of The Way.
Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of the American Christian, Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Iran, is in need of connective prayer. She has answered Quo Vadis and drawn her fish in the sand. Our joined prayers will offer support, Spirit, courage in faith.
Shariah Law under the new Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has condemned a sister in Christ. Nadia Mohammed Ali and her seven children have all been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for seeking conversion to Christianity. The clerks in the registration office have also been sentenced for aiding her since 2004 in her quest.
The nexus between our sisters in Ancient Rome and modern day Iran, Egypt, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Algeria, Mongolia, China, London, New York, Los Angeles and, yes, even Rome, Georgia, exists in our hearts as we link together in prayer. All because of those who were fishers of men for Cristos, our Savior.
Shall we pray in Jesus Name.
Quo Vadis, A Devotional Essay submitted to St Stephen’s Anglican Church by DFRaborn