Two summers ago, we took a trip to Italy, and after emerging from the Catacombs, we stumbled onto the Quo Vadis church. “Quo Vadis?” (“Where are you going?”) refers to a story about St. Peter, passed down through pious tradition.
In this story, Peter is fleeing Rome, where persecution is rampant. As he walks down the road that leads out of Rome, he encounters Christ…walking on the same road, but towards Rome. Surprised by this encounter, Peter asks Jesus, “Quo Vadis?” Wearily, Jesus looks at Peter and tells him, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.”
As the story goes, this encounter led Peter to turn around and go back to Rome where he was indeed crucified.
The Relatable Apostle
I have always loved Peter’s “cringe-worthiness.” We’ve all had those moments in life when we say something we later regret, and end up re-playing it in our heads, over and over again. I love that Peter has so many of these moments in the Gospels (and must have had even more in his lifetime). Peter says the first thing he is thinking, for better or worse. He acts impetuously, but with conviction (like cutting off the ear of a man in Gethsemane). He does what he thinks is right, and he does it with a passion.
All of us can relate to these sorts of moments—moments when we are convinced that we have the right response to a situation, the perfect explanation in a disagreement, or the most soothing words in a tough moment. Unfortunately, we’re often wrong, just as Peter was.
The difference is in our response. Do we respond the way Peter does when we are wrong?
Peter is almost embarrassingly humble. As quickly as he errs, he repents. When he is wrong, he readily admits it. When an apology is needed, he offers it whole heartedly. And when he learns the way he should go, he heads running in that direction.
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