Thursday, December 05, 2013


"The Mission."
A movie with amazing music and cinematography and casting.
Docudrama set in the 1750s in South America: Jesuit missionaries going to the native peoples, and what happened when the Treaty of Madrid rearranged European "ownership" of the South American lands.

The movie has a bunch of different aspects:

Enslavement of the Guarani people even when slavery was officially illegal.

Corrupt leadership, in both political government and church government.

The shock to authorities when they find native people (so unlike themselves) trusting in the same Lord, worshiping Him with the same liturgy, and receiving the same sacraments.

The place of priests in fighting injustice: fighting militarily or not.

Persecution of the Church.

Self-defense and "just war."

The affect of the Gospel.

Whoa, that last one!  (Okay.  Warning.  Spoilers ahead.)

In the story, a slave trader ends up killing his brother in a duel.  He is devastated.  There is no hope for him.  The person who finally gets through to him partially is the priest who is ministering to the Indians who had been this slave trader's prey.  Of course, being Roman Catholics, there had to be penance.  They came up with a task, and the slave trader kept at it.  No matter how long he doggedly worked at his penance, he wasn't finding peace.  There was no relief. 

There was no comfort for him until he arrived at the home of those Indians he had hunted ... and they forgave him.  They did not take vengeance on him.  They physically removed the burden he'd been lugging along as penance.  And they accepted him into their midst. 

Penance did not save him.
Penance did not help make up for his evils.
Penance showed him that he could not atone for what he'd done.
It was mercy and forgiveness that freed him.
That mercy, in conjunction with God's word, was what changed the slave trader into a priest.

The Mission is one of those movies that is both sickening and beautiful.  The violence & gore, the bigotry, the evils -- it's enough to turn your stomach.  And yet, there's the beauty of defending the innocent, and the glory of seeing hearts and lives changed by the Gospel.

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