25 September, Sunday — Who is that person in the mirror?

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amo 6:1,4-7
1 Tim 6:11-16 
Lk 16:19-31 

As a man dedicated to God, you must aim to be saintly and religious, filled with faith and love, patient and gentle. Fight the good fight of the faith…

My apologies to those for whom this might end up a bit of a movie spoiler. My reflection takes inspiration from a Netflix movie starring Robert Redford as General Erwin (aka the General) called ‘The Last Castle’. It is about a general sentenced to prison for war crimes committed. Two other characters in this movie are pivotal – Corporal Aguilar and Lieutenant Yates. The former, convicted of violently killing his officer in a fit of rage, the latter for his involvement pushing drugs for a cartel whilst on active service in Panama. These two were rejected by the other inmates as well as the Commandant of the prison — one for being branded a weak stuttering dim-wit who couldn’t even salute properly, the other for being an untrustworthy and treacherous snitch whom you could trust only as far as you could throw him.  

In Robert Redford’s character we see a different leader – one that inspired men from within their very souls and one that is capable of seeing the best in others where no one else could. Here was a leader that inspired men to have hope, self-respect, courage, morality, dignity, wisdom, faith. Who taught the other prison inmates — men who were no longer capable of respecting themselves as Marines and soldiers, hardened violent criminals and ex-Marines in most part — to learn once again, the meaning of honour. sacrifice, duty, putting others before self. A leader that inspired and showed, by his own example, fortitude and perseverance. A leader that showed not just a brilliant mind, but illuminating wisdom. In one scene, at one of the most dramatic points of the movie, the Commandant asked the General, “What do you think you’re trying to do to these men?” The General answered; “Remind them about the goodness that is still in them”. This is a movie about the triumph not of brute force, but of quiet inspiration. Not about the battle of the flesh, but of the spirit. To the General, leadership was about inclusion and not exclusion, about believing in the best of men despite the worst of their failures from their past and shortcomings of the present.  

When you look into the mirror each day, what do you see? The worst in yourself, or the best? When you look at the people around you, what do you see? When you look at your enemies, what do you see? For the devil, he sees the worst in us. And he plays on that weakness and sinfulness within all of us, like a prodigy violinist maestro plays the Stradivarius violin. The devil is not capable of seeing anything but the worst in us. Strumming the ballad about the worst in us is indeed sweet music to the devil.  

Here is where in the movie, divine inspiration struck me. That there was this other great leader I know who also never gave up on those around him who had led him down, betrayed him and abandoned him. Who did not see those around him as rejects — unworthy, incompetent and foolish. Who did not see those around as mere mortal flesh — weak, corrupt and detestable.  

No. This leader was special. He saw beyond human frailty of the flesh, to the human spirit, capable of heroic greatness. He saw each person as having intrinsic worth – a worth not corruptible by a selfish, sinful and superficial world. This leader I heard of, even thinks that those around him are worth more than his own life. And like the General in the movie, a leader who willingly gave up his own life so that the dignity and worth of the lives of his ‘men’ in that prison camp could be redeemed. That they would inspire all to find in themselves again, great warriors and men of courage, honour, duty and dignity. And not unlike the more ‘traditional’ war hero, this leader too led men to great victory against impossible odds raising the dead, walking on water, feeding thousands with practically nothing, casting out demons, where he inspired a band of 12 weak cowards to stand against the Jewish Sanhedrin and the mighty Roman legions and to make Satan himself kneel and bow before Him. And he too changed the course of history – both of heaven and of earth, for all eternity. 

Give me a minute as I try to recall the name of this great leader…oh right, I think I remember now…I think he was called — Jesus.  

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)  

Prayer: Father, help us as we battle the sinfulness within us and within this world. For all the times we were not capable of seeing the best in others, but only their worst. 

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for helping us find our true worth and dignity through Jesus, who never gave up on us and led us to rediscover that, like Jesus, we too are made in the divine image and likeness of God.  

One thought on “25 September, Sunday — Who is that person in the mirror?

Add yours

  1. Another powerfulminsight-filled reflection.
    “For the devil, he sees the worst in us. And he plays on that weakness and sinfulness within all of us, like a prodigy violinist maestro plays the Stradivarius violin. The devil is not capable of seeing anything but the worst in us. Strumming the ballad about the worst in us is indeed sweet music to the devil. ”
    Thank you for this reflection.

    Like

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