Will try to write a thought for Friday while it is still Friday. The day started well, with early prayer and efficiency and a “mission of mercy” – surprising a sick someone with a pleasant little gift…But the afternoon presented too much to do and too many obstacles. I didn’t know the right decisions to make, and I missed out on any further serious prayer or Bible reading. NOT GOOD for a Friday.
And yet, a day like this brings me back to the movie we all saw yesterday at the party. Peter arrives in Imperial Rome, to the great joy of the new Christian community that is already there. He gives a sermon (in the movie) full of great love, encouragement, and personal humility. You can tell from his words that he still very acutely remembers his former weakness and then betrayal of his Lord.
Perhaps a little of his former self resurfaces as things “heat up” in Rome against the Christians. How does one handle false accusations? How does one meet severe opposition? What does one do in the face of official oppression and persecution? Perhaps just back off, give yourself a breather, get away from it all for a while?
As Peter is leaving Rome, walking with a young friend, he wishes, out loud, that he could be with Jesus once again, face to face, to ask Him questions, to sort out his busy and difficult life. He is weary. And then he sees a light near a tree.
Here is my favorite part of the whole movie. We, the movie watchers, see a light growing brighter and brighter, clear and brilliant Light, and Peter recognizes it is the Light that is Jesus. He says: “You ARE here, Lord!”
But the Lord is moving towards Rome. TOWARDS Rome. “Where are you going, Lord?” “Quo Vadis, Domine?”
Jesus says He is going to Rome to be crucified again. Peter must have remembered that earlier in his life, 30 years ago, he watched and heard his Lord say, “If anyone wants to be My disciple, let him take up his cross and follow Me.”
The cross that Jesus gives us, no matter how difficult, is the one that makes us His disciple and leads us to the path of glory with Him forever.Jesus shone down the light of His glory for just a while onto Peter, to encourage him and to remind him that his cross will lead him to Jesus in heaven. It was a very touching moment in the film; it touches us deeply whenever the Lord reminds us of his nearness.
350 years ago, a very holy woman* was allowed to see the great evil that would characterize the 20th century. It would be a time of complete corruption of culture, morals, of clergy, and of the innocence of children. Complete corruption. Her visions were meant to be a warning for any faithful who might be found at that time.
They would have a heavy cross to take up, because there will be so much confusion and disorientation. Like Peter – and many others – I understand that we will grow weary.
But these are the words she heard: “Oh, if only human beings and religious knew what heaven is and what it is to possess God, how differently they would live, sparing no sacrifice in order to enter more fully in possession of it!”
And so Peter gladly “picked his cross up” and headed back toward Rome where he had work to do.
* Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres; Quito, Ecuador