I cannot forget this one particular intense scene from “Quo Vadis,” a famous novel written by the Polish novelist, Henryk Sienkiewicz, where Apostle Peter and a boy rush south on Appian Way before dawn to flee from persecution by Nero and are arrested by the authorities.
A mysterious sphere of light approached from the morning mist, and there appeared a figure. It was unmistakably Jesus Christ. The aged Peter kneeled, reached out, and asked while crying. “Quo Vadis, Domine?” (“Lord, where are you going?”) Then a sad but with a clear voice said to Peter, “If you are going to abandon my people, I am going to Rome to be crucified once again.” The boy walking along with Peter did not see anything nor hear anything. Peter, having fallen as if he were unconscious, got himself up, raised his shaking hand holding a cane, and headed back to the city that he had just escaped from. Looking at this, the boy asks Peter, “Quo Vadis, Domine?” Peter answers in a small voice, “To Rome.” After returning to Rome, Peter is martyred just like Paul. He was crucified upside down at his own request. (This story is said to have been written based on the legend created around the end of the 2nd Century.)
Every time I recall this scene, I feel my heart pounding and tremoring, but after I become calm, I feel as if I am being scolded, but on the other hand also encouraged.
“What is truth?”
We are about to welcome Holy Week. This is the last question asked by the Roman governor Pilate at the palace after summoning Jesus. However, it seems that Pilate questioned and spoke on the spur of the moment and was not serious. Rather, truth cannot be so simple. That is how I imagine he would have felt. Until he had reached his current position, or even more after being in his current position, he may have been living in a world where sharp trickeries flew around, and falsehood and fraud were the very common knowledge. Afterwards, Pilate obviously loses his interest to this question.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
Meeting Jesus is an experience in life where one’s way of life and values are inspired, but on the contrary, it is also a dangerous experience where the various things which one has made as its own are destroyed. However, isn’t there a bit of a surprising feeling as if a possibility for something new is given or might be born? These thoughts and wishes well up as if one could somehow be of help and do something for Jesus.
Even if my encounter with Jesus be a bitter experience, I think it is an encounter where hope and possibility are given to lead a life as a new human being.
“What is truth?”
“Who is truth?”
Revd Eliezer Shiro Nakao
Ichinomiya Holy Light Church