The term is a Latin phrase meaning, "Where are you going?" It dates to an early Church tradition – a tradition every Christian and every pastor might do well to review once a year.
According to the tradition, St. Peter was fleeing government persecution – and his own likely execution – when he met the Risen Jesus on the road outside the city.
Peter asked the Lord, “Quo Vadis?” (Where are you going?). To which Jesus responded, “To Rome to be crucified again.”
Suddenly face to face with his own fear and remorse, Peter turned and walked back into the city to continue the work to which Christ has called all Christians: “Preach the gospel.”
St. Peter is eventually martyred and crucified upside down. But the point of the story is not Peter‘s martyrdom, but that he overcame his fear and returned to the city. The point of the story is that he would not be ashamed of Christ or of the gospel. He would continue to preach the truth. The point of the story is:
You and I must do likewise.
Peter’s colleague, St. Paul, wrote this warning and word of encouragement to young Timothy – a word of warning and encouragement the Holy Spirit applies to you and me in this 21st century:
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
The apostle continues: “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”(2 Timothy 4)
Today, like few other times in Church history, governments and men and women – even within the Church – no longer wish to hear truth. Instead, they seek teachers who will tell them what they want to hear.
From the pulpit to the pew, from the highest seats of government to the highest chairs in universities – even those universities founded on Christian principles – men and women now bow the knee and kiss the feet of the idol called Tolerance, whose only two requirements are: Everyone do what is right in your own eyes; and everyone else must accept what you do as okay.
Christian, listen! At this very moment Jesus has turned to ask you: Quo Vadis?
What is your answer?