My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
QUO VADIS? "Where are you going?"
The Latin phrase Quo Vadis denotes an episode from the life of Saint Peter, as told in the New Testament Apocrypha.
The holy Apostle Peter, according to this legend, fled to Rome during the persecution of Christians under the pagan emperor Nero. As he was walking along the Appian Way, he met Christ in a vision. Astonished, he asked ‘Domine quo Vadis?’ (‘Lord, where are you going?’) Christ replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified a second time. Saint Peter then realized that his departure from the city was cowardly and returned to face whatever persecutions might befall him.
It matters, not whether the above account is true or a pious legend. Holy and Great Lent is a time of profound personal reflection for all Christian believers. It is perhaps the appropriate time to ask ourselves the question, Quo Vadis? But not where are you going, but where am I going? That is, where am I going spiritually. Are we seeking a personal encounter with our Savior Jesus Christ? Each person comes to this holy place from different situations. Like the holy Apostle, we will meet Jesus Christ through Quo Vadis events. We, too, will have a choice to make. Do we follow Jesus where He leads us or go our own way?
Ask our Lord Jesus Christ as did Saint Peter, "Quo Vadis Domine?" Then listen to Him, follow Him, and find your vocation–the purpose of your life.
This Sacred Season of Lent is in itself a spiritual journey that we, as Orthodox Christians, take hoping to meet our beloved Lord Who would lead us to glory. He is the only one Who can help us find our way and to find the elusive happiness in life. It is our Savior that can give meaning and purpose to our life here on earth. Don’t ever give up hope that you, too, can meet Him on your life-long journey to the heavenly Kingdom.
Just as the Apostle, we must have courage and not run away from whatever comes our way. Believe in Him Who is with you at all times, both in persecution and a time of peace. He is with you at times of sadness and sorrow, but also at times of gladness and joy. God’s way is one of gentleness and sweetness. Although He knows how we feel about Him, still He wants to hear it from us, just as He asks Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, DO YOU LOVE ME more than these?’ He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know THAT I LOVE YOU." (Saint John 21:15).
We too, without any hesitation at all must respond emphatically, YES, LORD, YOU KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU! Don’t be embarrassed to confess how much you love Him. It is natural that when we love someone, we tell him or her how much we love them. Expressing one’s love openly and demonstratively is necessary and important. Expressing freely our feelings of love for another is a fulfilling experience that cannot compare with anything else. We need not only tell Christ "I love You," but we must show Him how much we love Him. What unites us with our Creator and with one another is love. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Agape!
The world that Amighty God created was created with the specific intent of being a place of love. Love is the creative power of God. All that He Created, He created out of love. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Also, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US" (1 John 4:18-19). Furthermore, "If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, whom he has seen, how can he love God, whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God MUST love his brother also" (1 John 4:20-21).
Abhor hatred, for hatred has as its origin in evil. The source of hatred is the evil one who pursues us and desires our destruction and of everything which is good. Hate is like a dark cloud that obstructs the light, but cannot defeat it. Hate can never overcome love, for love is of God. We as the children of God must decide if we want to be instruments of love or instruments of hate. We are witnessing the battle between hatred and love at this very moment in time in our coutnry. There are those who seek reconciliation and unity, while others who seek to divide the nation and fill it with anger and hatred. This spiritual warfare has been going on for a very long time and the result is a world fighting to survive. Historically, the war between one another begins with the two brothers, Cain and Abel; and sadly has not ceased. Our human history is filled wih regional wars, civil wars, and world wars. Millions upon millions of people have been killed over centuries, and yet, we repeat them again and again without any solution or success. Are not wars evil and do not wars breed hatred among the people of the earth? These actions are totally irrational and sheer insanity.
Quo Vadis? Where are you going my child? No matter the journey, you must have a destination in mind. Where do you want to go? What do you want to see? What does your heart tell you? Don’t be afraid to travel anywhere in the world, for life is an adventure filled with all kinds of experiences. Travelling, as you should know, can be thriling, interesting, educational, surprising, disappointing, rewarding, and at times even dangerous. Life is that way! What ever you face in life, as long as you face it with faith and courage, you will win. Our Lord Jesus Christ, our Loving God and Savior, is always there to support you, to protect you, to encourage you, to guide you, to heal you when you are injured, and to bring you to your destination safely. Jesus says to us, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world YOU WILL HAVE TRIBULATION, but BE OF GOOD CHEER, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD" (St. John16:33). Despite persecution and suffering, be at peace with Me, trust in Me, remain steadfast in your love for Me, remain unshaken and untroubled. "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (St. Matthew 28:20).