Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Penitent Man Shall Pass

One of the most memorable scenes for me in the movie Indiana Jones The Last Crusade was the one where Indiana began to figure out the first trap.  The tension had built to a climax as his father lay dying on the ground from a gunshot wound, the Nazi antagonists were waiting in the wings to kill
him, several of the corpses of those who had attempted this quest laying on the ground around him.  As the air begins to swirl again, Indiana began to mutter to himself over and over, "The penitent man shall pass."  It was only when he realized that a penitent man was one who was on his knees before God, that he dropped into a humble position, quickly dodging the nearly invisible saw blade, performed a back flip, and then snagged the whole apparatus with a very conveniently placed rope. 

As I meditated upon the readings for tomorrow (Oct 14th, 2015), that word impenitent jumped out at me reminding me of this heroic scene.  In both the first reading and the gospel we see people being reminded of the need for not just justice, but also for mercy.   That the core of Jesus message is to bring about a metanoia experience in which the person turns from their former ways and experiences true conversion.   True conversion brings about not just a spiritual, internal change, but an outward change expressed in and through good works.

Then Jesus hears from another voice crying out, but Lord your word cuts me to the quick, surely you don't mean me as well?  To which Jesus quickly affirms "Woe also to you[..]! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."  Jesus makes sure to call out to all of those in his audience who aren't living an authentic life, one tempered in covenantal love.  He calls out to us to express our relationship with God in good works, in loving one another, in being merciful because we remember the mercy with which God has already showered each and everyone of us.

As I watch the news and read my different social media, I see so much going on in the world that shows not only a lack of justice but also a great lack of mercy.  We see refugees being expelled from their country, Christians being martyred and crucified, fleeing refugees being refused entry and even basic necessities out of the inconvenience that might cause any nation that chooses to accept them.  We see people proclaiming each and every immigrant to be a thug, a vandal, a radical adherent to a religion... guilty of some subterfuge or plotting to destroy the nation from within.

Maybe some of them are indeed that sort of person.  What though of the women?  The children?  The
young?  The widow and the orphan?  The broken and down trodden?  How do we justify the refusal to feed and clothe the least of these while also proclaiming to be Catholic? Then again do we have to look so far from home and into such an extreme to find the lack of justice?  What of the man on the corner who asks for money?  Have we not become so jaded that often we don't give him money, money that is only ours by the grace of God, because we fear what he might do with it?  Do we fret over the neighbor who parked his car in front of our drive? Or the team mate who did not pass the basketball but scored his own basket?  

There are too many missed opportunities out there to show God's mercy and justice to others.  We have a lot of work to do in this world.  We pray daily that His kingdom come and His will be done, but do we truly mean it?  After all, as Mother Teresa said, “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done.  We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”   I pray that we will open our hearts to God's mercy and justice, that we might hear "Well done my good and faithful servant," and not  “Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”

In Christ,
Brian