Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It's a Wonderful Life Part I

Last year, I forced my ten year old son to watch It's a Wonderful Life for the first time.

"It's black and white?" he said.

"Yeah, so?"

"That's means it's boring." Oh, the whining.

"We are watching it for twenty minutes, if you don't like it at that point, we can stop."

I would put the first twenty minutes of It's a Wonderful Life up against any other film for flat out captivation and I was right. Two scenes of George Bailey as a child and he was hooked.

We enjoyed the film so much as a family that we sat down a year later to watch it again. Had to rent it through Amazon. Why do I not own a copy?

Like any good film there is something new to glean every time you watch it. Whether it be a nuance of a character or a good quote, or the fact that life events in between viewings alter how your mind and emotions react to stimulus, the movie affects you differently.

This is Part I of my reflection on this classic, and I will start at the very end of the movie.

When George Bailey opens Clarence Odbody's copy of Tom Sawyer, he reads the inscription:

Dear George, 

Remember no man is a failure who has friends. 

Thanks for the wings! Love Clarence.

I am not going to expound on the non-Catholic theology of people becoming angels if you were hoping or afraid of that.

Instead I will say, for the first time, I was brought to tears when reading the text on the screen. It immediately brought me back to the wake and funeral of a family friend who lost his battle with cancer this past November. The stories and tears that many friends from childhood, college, and adult life shared showed everyone present what a wonderful life this man had lived and how he had left a wake of touched hearts during his walk on this Earth.

Since it is the season for resolutions, this experience increased my resolve to commit to building my company of friends, rekindling the zeal of my faith during college, and exposing my children to families who share my desire to keep our kids close to Jesus as they become adults.
Peace and love,
Mark Andrews

Friday, January 1, 2016

Mary, the Mother of God

As history has built a moat between Catholics and Protestants, it is up to all Christians of good will to build bridges to recreate the unity that Our Lord intended. With this intention I put forward the following opportunities that arise from the celebration of this Solemn Feast in the church's calendar.

First, the Blessed Virgin was the first disciple of Jesus. She was the first to say yes to His call. When Gabriel told her that she would have a son called Emmanuel she accepted the invitation to discipleship thirty years before the apostles would agree to be "fishers of men". Despite her youth and the threat to her very life, she began a journey with the Lord.

Several years ago, the bracelets with WWJD (What would Jesus do?) were very popular. I always found this to be an unfair question. For one, not being divine precludes me from his exact ways to be sure, but more over it was Our Lord's mission to make disciples to Himself. I am not called to make disciples to myself but to Him that John the Baptist spoke of. To this end the church presents us Our Lady as a guide. Wouldn't What Would Mary do? be a more fair question. The Annunciation gives us our first hint of what Mary would do. At the Visitation, Mary praises God in the Magnificat with words that all Christians can echo with confidence. Our songs of praise can only attempt to match those which the Blessed Mother spoke in scripture. When Jesus is lost for days in Jerusalem and Mary is without His companionship, she is spiritually lost. Do we drop everything in our lives when we lose touch with Our Lord? And finally her words at the wedding feast in Cana, instruct us on what we should say to all we encounter. "Do whatever He tells you to." These are the final words of Our Lady in scripture. What remains to be to said for any disciple?

The second bridge which perhaps is further down the road for those are distant from the Catholic Church is the Real Presence in the Eucharist. 

As Jesus intended Mary to be the first disciple and dwelt within her, would it not follow that He would intend to dwell within all of His disciples in the same visceral way? Looking at His words in John 6, we see His intent to give all of His followers the same Life within them that Mary had. Mary physically had Jesus with her for thirty years, We can share that intimacy for short amounts of time through Holy Communion.