Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
2022 Blog #28
July 18, 2022
Summer Cinema Scenes in 10 parts
Part 3 “Les Miserables”
“I have saved your soul for God.”
The movie “Les Miserables” haunts me. I will probably watch it one more time during the summer. I love the idea that a former prisoner, Jean Valjean, could be converted to an honest life by the actions of a priest. If you know the story, Jean Valjean spent twenty years in a French prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his hungry nephew. Because of this robbery he would spend his whole life on parole and could be sent back to prison for any infraction, no matter how small.
Desperate and hungry he is taken in by a priest into his rectory. There he is well fed and given a place to sleep. Rather than accept this generosity for more than a day, Jean Valjean has another plan. In the early morning hours, he steals much of the silver from the rectory and tries to escape with his ill-gotten gain. Instead of a quick escape, he is caught by the local police. He claims that the priest gave him these things and is quickly brought to the priest to verify this story. The priest, to save Valjean from future imprisonment, lies and says that he gave the silver to the thief. In fact, he even gives Valjean more silver and dismisses the police.
Valjean is in disbelief at the kindness of the priest and is in more disbelief at the priest’s follow up. He claims to have “saved Valjean’s soul for God.”
Valjean, a parolee from prison and a thief, was forgiven by a priest and his transformed by this act of generosity. He goes on to become a model citizen a mayor and a factory owner for whom many people owe him for the livelihoods that he gives them. He also comforts a young woman in her death and adopts this woman’s daughter as his own and give her a wonderful life. Later, he saves the girl’s boyfriend from death after he is shot during an insurrection.
Yes, this seems like a fairy tale. Surely a criminal could not turn around so quickly all because of one act of generosity. And yet, we do find many examples in history of people on their way to a life of crime who were turned around by a loving family member who was a buffer from abuse or even a mentor who helped young people overcome what would have been insurmountable obstacles toward honest lives. This might be rare, but it is not unknown. Many a person was saved from a dead end life by good mentoring.
Are we all willing to be mentors in Jesus’ name? How many lives could we save from destruction if we were all willing to be so faithful. Are we willing to be forgiving, more than worldly people, and help bring about such transformations for others.