Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reflections on the Easter Message

We watched the Iron Giant today – wonderful movie whose ending has me thinking of the Easter Message.

There's a point in the story where a nuclear missile is going to kill everyone that the Iron Giant knows. In an instant the Giant makes a selfless decision – he will sacrifice himself to save everyone else. As he flies toward the missile he hears his friend's words in his head "You are what you choose to be." Moments before the impact, with determination of choice, the Giant says "Superman!"

It's a retelling of the universal human story of unconditional love, compassion and sacrifice. It's taught in all of our world religions and traditions. The Qur'an teaches the most effective factor in establishing world peace is through an individual's personal peace and inner state of harmony; Buddhism warns that to be of any help at all we must first become selfless. "You must be the change you want to see in the world," echoes the words of Mahatma Gandhi. It even permeates our own stories, as when Gandalf tells Frodo "All there is to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."

Despite what its critics say, Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of my favourite movies; a brilliant portrayal of a Jesus that I can relate too.

"Last Temptation" is Scorsese’s attempt to reconcile the belief that Jesus was both fully a man and fully God with his own understanding of what it means to truly be a man. As such, Scorsese's Jesus is a man with human feelings as Scorsese knows them. Jesus struggles to understand his relationship with God and his "destiny" as he believes God has laid it out for him. But he struggles because for him it has no meaning, yet, and as such he can’t make the sacrifice that the act itself demands.

What makes "Last Temptation" so powerful occurs within the dream sequence near the end of the movie. Jesus has before him all the temptations that any regular man desires from a lifetime, he tastes it, knows it, and wants it more than anything he's ever wanted before. With it comes a different destiny; his world in ruins.

In an instant of epic realization, Jesus sees what is at stake and makes a choice. He chooses to be the son of God. He chooses to be the sacrifice to save his fellow man. He gives up everything he always wanted and dreamed of and asks God to take him - willingly gifting his life for the good of humanity - this intentional choice is what provides the sacrifice necessary for salvation to occur.

It was never enough for him to merely go to the cross and die.

Just as it is not enough for any of us to merely lead a simple and self centered life towards our own endings.

This same potential exists within all of us. At best it's what sets certain people apart in moments of chaos – those we call heroes - and at least it's a way of living that influences the choices we consider making. We must be the change we want to see in this world. Everyday.

Happy Easter everyone.

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