Monday, February 20, 2017

When a secular movie can give us an image of what a great grace our divine filiation given at baptism bestows upon us.

I had the opportunity to watch the movie 'Lion' recently, and it left me with so many points to ponder and reflect on.  A powerful movie is able to do that.  It doesn’t just leave you when you leave your seat in the cinema hall.  You take images and messages of it with you out of the screening, and as you go through your days following the experience, there will be moments when you find certain scenes appearing in your mind, making you reflect on the reality of your own existence. This, in my opinion, is what makes a really good movie.  It is what continues to ‘roll’ in your heart even after the final credits have ended.

Perhaps it is because I have been constantly reminding both myself and my congregants of the dignity that we have as the adopted children of God through our baptism that makes me appreciate in so many ways this movie is both poignant and moving.  After all, the movie revolves around how a lost boy of five from the rural villages of India ends up getting adopted by a loving Australian couple in Tasmania.  Not being adopted myself, watching how a lost boy becomes accepted and loved unconditionally by parents that are not his own gave me a sneak and privileged peek at some of the emotions that must be a part of such an experience.  Perhaps we don’t do that enough in our experience as children of our natural parents and that is why Christianity’s great message of privilege and dignity of our being God’s adopted children of divine heritage sometime fails to make the great impact that it should.  We never really choose God.  It was God who chose us first (the primacy of grace), and we don’t give enough thought of just how tremendous this is.  It is just very much taken for granted by most of us.

I think that only a small handful of people will truly understand and appreciate just what it is to have parents who have consciously made that choice to adopt you when they could have had children of their very own, like the adoptive parents of Saroo, the man whose life is central in ‘Lion’.  In one very touching scene, Saroo’s adoptive mother, played by Nicole Kidman, was not barren.  She tells him that she and her husband had made a conscious decision to adopt children who do not have parents of their own, to give them a life, because they felt that to take a child who was suffering and to give them a chance in life and in the world is really something tremendous. 

If there were one line in the entire movie that was worth the ticket price, this would be it.  I believe it tries to explain in our vocabulary, as impossible as it is, the theology of God adopting us as his children.  Without salvation and God’s grace, we sinners are as lost as Saroo who found himself lost amidst the millions of people in Calcutta one morning - an aimless urchin with no way of getting back to the family who loved him more than a thousand kilometers away in rural India.  But adoption through baptism is indeed a game changer.

Just as Saroo took such an arduous journey back to India to look for his birth mother, we too make this quest in our search for meaning in life, and for God. 

Many people have come to that point in life where they realise that what they have been dedicating their lives to - things or projects that leave them feeling somewhat flat and unfulfilled, have then embarked on a search to find what it is that is either missing or that will bring them to greater fulfillment and what gives their lives a higher purpose.  For the spiritually attuned, this would take the form of looking for God, who is the one who gives our lives ultimate meaning and purpose because it is only God can be the quest that lasts beyond this life.  All other quests and yearnings find their terminus when we breathe our last. 

All of us, even those who have been baptized since birth, are on this journey.  We fool ourselves if we think that just because we are baptized and practice our faith by coming to Mass every Sunday that there is no need for conversion anymore.  I’m afraid that we may become retarded if we hold this to be true at all.  After all, to retard is to delay or hold back any progress or development, and all of us, without exception, need to progress and develop in our spiritual lives and to become spiritually mature.  It should not surprise us one bit to see that in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and man.  If that was necessary for Jesus the God man, how more imperative and pressing is this for us mere mortals?

I’m not a great fan of the movies, but once in a while, there comes along one that seems to tick many boxes that really make it a gem of a find.  Apparently, this one has been nominated as one of this year’s Oscar contenders for Best Picture.  I’m quite certain the creators of the movie weren’t consciously making a spiritual movie, but I’d highly recommend it as one.


  1. "We never really choose God. It was God who chose us first (the primacy of grace),..... "

    Previously, I would have debated vehemently the rationale of this statement for I knowingly chose to be baptized. Furthermore, I chose to follow a "western God", a weak & gentle/ docile God who allowed wicked men to torture & kill him.

    I had read, listened to talks & reasoned about all this before taking this momentous step- it was not so much a heart but a head decision. I guessed what really convinced was that this God was the only one in all the great world religions that walked in human history..............on a love mission to save humanity. So I was very sure I chose Him

    However, over the years of trying to live the just struck me that there are many kinds of blindness & the most difficult to recognize is the one that's self-imposed i.e. when it is caused by the blinkers one has had on for so long that one gets comfortable, not realizing their presence.

    Perhaps, it's the "I" that gets in the way of the eye that makes it well nigh impossible to see that He has been one's pilgrim companion all along and it is by His special favour or grace that one is gradually able to recognize this. And so, all of a sudden- one's world takes on a different perspective....a brighter hue, a richness as of velvety wine , washing away the dryness & deprivation....the desolation of silence.

    Perhaps that's what grace does... only thing is - one doesn't know how one merits it.

    I know you often tell us - it's unmerited-and now I do agree with you!

    God bless u, Fr


  2. Absolutely loved this movie. I'm not much of a movie person either, but this movie is GOOD. Saw your post a while back but didn't have the space to comment. I would like to share some now.

    Unlike you, I didn't think about God, or his adoption of me as his child. But I cried buckets when Saroo found where he came from in India. How to explain feelings so complex and pure at the same time?

    When I was studying in the States, there was a time I felt beyond tired and wishing for the warmth and comfort of home again. Out of the blue, I made friends with a lovely grandma who needed help to cross the road. She proceeded to invite me to go to Waterfire with her, which was a memorial event for families in that area who had lost family members in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. She said her son would be my age if he were alive that year. And then she invited me to her other son's home and the short of it is, I felt so at home I feel asleep on their couch.

    Truly, looking back, I see God's hand through these warm, kind souls. They provided respite for my very weary soul at a time I needed it the most.

    I have lost contact with them. But I never forgot them. Never forgot how they made me feel. I have tried to find them again, but somehow have not been successful. Perhaps I should try harder. But I also feel compelled to pay it forward when the opportunity arises.

    They adopted me, if just for a day, and that made ALL the difference.