MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on how Morgan Freeman sounds like Jesus this time in Shawshank Redemption. What does this have to do with bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Matthew 25:1-13. For Audio, “read more” below. #GreatChristianPreaching #Sermons #SecondComingPrep
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For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 11/9/2014.
Please pause this audio, watch the video clip on the website (http://youtu.be/gcn6v7IaIfA), and read Matthew 25:1-13.
[During the third, final parole board meeting, screenwriter Frank Darabon has Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, played by Morgan Freeman, again wearily asked his thoughts on rehabilitation (rejoining society), after serving 40 years of a life sentence:
Rehabilitated? Well, now, let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means…I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made-up word. A politician’s word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?…
There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are, but I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It’s just a bulls–t word. So you go on and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a s–t.]
I hope you had a chance to watch the video that was embedded just before this audio of Morgan Freeman giving one of the best monologues in movies in my generation. It is from the Shawshank Redemption where he talks about being “Rehabilitated”. There is a line in that monologue, written by brilliant screenwriter Frank Darabon that says this,
There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are, but I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left.
As I was doing the research for this reflection, I read a lot about wedding practices, about how the groom went and got the bride and then they went together to pick up the bridesmaids. I read about the seven day feast and all the preparations that went into the wedding and the celebration of the wedding. Yet, what struck me about this story is that Jesus told it at all. It is revealing about how much he loves us. Then, it reminded me of this passage from the Shawshank Redemption, delivered masterfully by Morgan Freeman. Please excuse the word he uses that could bring offense to some, but I think in the situation of the movie, a prison, it is something that would have been said. It makes the scene real and gritty.
If you watched the video link on YouTube, you can see it in Freeman’s eyes. The sadness that he wishes he could go back to when he was young and talk to himself. He longs so deeply that he could have saved himself from the long life he has lived behind bars with unscrupulous wardens and guards, having to get permission to do the basic things of life (even going to the restroom), or to wake up, eat, go outside. Oh, all the pain and suffering he could have saved himself, if he could just go back and talk to himself! Yet, the “redemption” of this passage is that he then says, “But I can’t.”
The total resignation is something that I think all of us who are parents can relate to at times. I am old enough to have lived enough life that I wish I could go back and not make some decisions that I made which would have saved me and my family tremendous pain and agony. I often give advice. I often give advice to my children. I want to save them the pain and anguish that I know is coming if they choose wrongly. Oh, my children are not making decisions that are going to land them in jail, but I do have people in my life who are sitting in jail right now for whom my heart is broken because they didn’t follow my advice.
It is hard not to feel pain for those whom you have given advice. Yet, it is advice. It is a suggestion at best. In Greek Grammar, they place the tense of verbs in order in some grammars by the probability of their happening. Present and past tenses are most certain because they happened or they are happening. I remember chuckling once when I read a Greek grammar that said, “The tense that is farthest from reality is the tense of the command.” I chuckled because I thought, “this guy has to be a parent.” We don’t usually give advice to someone unless we love them.
Often times, when I am on the internet chat boards, like my newly discovered world of Reddit, I encounter people who speak of God and Jesus like they are wardens at a prison. The group for whom I am gaining more admiration for, the “spiritual but not religious”, they seem to equate “spirituality” with “freedom to do as I please.” That is the negative side, but there is a positive side, “I want to follow a path that has integrity, away from harsh judges.” I get that, but as a parent, who want to protect my children from the harshness of the world and its unscrupulous ways, I think of Jesus as more like the eyes of Morgan Freeman in his delivery of Darabon’ s words, “I want to talk to him.”
Is it possible that we could hear the words of Jesus, not as a scolding task master, an unscrupulous prison warden, but as loving parent, or a man who regrets his past so much that he wants to go back and talk some sense into his younger self? Hear Jesus as he says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like this: keep awake…for you know neither the day nor the hour.” What if he said in such a way as to say, “I want you to succeed. I want you to be with me forever. I want you to live well. I want you to know the truth and be free of evil. I want you to be prepared. I want you…I want you?”
This 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, we have a special treat: all of the passages of Scripture for this Sunday go together in some sort of way. Jesus is warning us to be prepared in the Gospel Lesson. Joshua, the successor to Moses, summons the people and tells them, and us, how to be prepared in the first lesson. St. Paul, in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica, tells us for what we are preparing the second lesson.
Joshua summons the people to tell them to stop following other false gods and to have a relationship with the living God. It is that famous passage, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” The Christian Commercial Complex has printed this passage on wallpaper, coffee cups, key chains, bumper stickers, cross stitched pillows, etc. You name it, it probably is on it. It is a wonderful passage where Joshua just doesn’t say, “Hey, stop it!” No, he calls the people of Israel together and reminds them of how God has been a living presence in their lives. He recounts the salvific history of the people of God being delivered from bondage in Egypt to where they are now setting up places of worship in the Promised Land. The way to prepare is to “leave behind false gods”. What are the false gods in your life that lead you away from God? What are the things you follow other than the living God; little sayings, pay checks, the prestige of a title, and the position in your family? Please stop and get prepared by serving the living God. Prepared for what?
St. Paul’s letter to the Church at Thessalonica lays it out plainly: for the Second Coming of Christ. That is where we will be judged for the life we have lived and the disposition of our hearts. “For the Lord himself,…, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” That means those of us who claim to be Christians will be judged first, too. What appreciable difference in our lives is there because of Jesus Christ? What have we done that is different from how the world lives? If we were accused of being a Christian, would anyone agree?
These are all questions that we should ask, not just because we are afraid of Hell, but because we want to spend eternity with the one who loves us enough to warn us. Much like Morgan Freeman saying he doesn’t regret it because he is in prison, but because he wants to change how his life went. People who don’t love us don’t warn us; they keep silent. We want to spend time with the Lover of our souls. We want to love the one who came to be like us: walk our walk; talk our talk, live our life, die our death and raise us up to eternal life! Right?
So, where do we want to be? If God were to ask us, “do you feel you have been rehabilitated?” How do we want to answer? What are we doing about it right now? Amen? Amen.
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