Quo vadis?,
Painted by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609),
Painted in 1601,
Oil on panel
© National Gallery, London

Quo vadis?,
Painted by Annibale Carracci (1560-1609),
Painted in 1601,
Oil on panel
© National Gallery, London

Gospel of 5 August 2022

If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him take up his cross

Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour. I tell you solemnly, there are some of these standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming with his kingdom.’

Reflection on the painting

In today's Gospel reading Jesus said to his disciples: 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me'. Our painting today by Annibale Caracci is a prime example of this Gospel passage in action. Saint Peter is depicted fleeing from Rome to avoid being crucified and has a vision of meeting Christ bearing his Cross, walking in the opposite direction. Peter asks Jesus 'Quo vadis?' ('Where are you going?'), to which Christ replies, 'Romam vado iterum crucifigi' ('I am going to Rome to be crucified again'). Realising that he betrayed Jesus once before during the Passion by denying him three times, he doesn't want to make the same mistake again of abandoning Jesus and his church. Peter turns around and returns to Rome to face martyrdom. Saint Peter is  painted here in a state of shock at seeing Christ. Christ, on the other hand, is painted as a muscular athlete carrying the cross. The foot of the cross points towards us as the viewer. So is Christ's right arm, pointing resolutely forward, inviting us t00 to carry our cross and follow him.

This 'Quo Vadis' episode of Saint Peter is the last time that Peter would need to be 'redirected' by Jesus. After this, the Church that began in Jerusalem became Roman, principally because Peter and Paul took the Gospel into what was then the heart of the pagan world and because they both died there.

In our reading today Jesus tells his disciples and us to take up our own crosses... a cross that is unique and very different for each of us.

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Alison Childerley
Member
Alison Childerley(@ali)
4 days ago

Peter cut off the soildier’s ear, denied Jesus three times and ran away and hide and then didn’t show up at the cross and went back to his old life. Jesus still came to him and said come on you can be the rock for my church! No wonder Peter looked shocked! 😂😍🙏 Xxx

Mo Hill
Member
Mo Hill(@moart)
13 days ago

Does the second paragraph reference the second coming?

Oi Lian Kon
Member
Oi Lian Kon(@kairos712)
13 days ago

Exchanging one’s soul for the world (even the whole world) is surely not a smart decision but one that regularly seduces us.

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
13 days ago

The second paragraph is interesting. Does it refer to the end of time?

Oi Lian Kon
Member
Oi Lian Kon(@kairos712)
13 days ago

A commentary I consulted suggests Jesus was referring to the transfiguration which immediately follows this passage.

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