I think you might have heard of Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman. Well, I’m not going to talk to you about that film. About three years ago, Scorsese came out with another film that did not have the notoriety of some of his other films. And it was an unusual subject for him—-it was about the Jesuit missionaries in Japan in the Seventeenth Century. It was called “Silence”. It’s based on a novel of the same title by Shusaku Endo.
These Jesuit missionaries—-these brave men faced many obstacles just to get to the far island of Japan, only to have to live in hiding among small Catholic communities, once they got there, in caves and on remote mountains. The leaders of Japan were very hostile to these men, and when the Jesuits were captured, they would be subjected to horrible tortures.
As I was reading this book, I thought, “Would I have faith that strong to want to go to a distant land and face all that difficulty?” Did these Jesuits question themselves once they got there and faced arrest, prison and worse?
When John the Baptist asks the question, “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” he’s being held a prisoner. Was John wondering if he had made a mistake with his life? Was he thinking, “Was I wrong in speaking on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth? Is this the end of the road for me?” As it turns out, he would never walk out of that prison alive. At a future date executioners would come in the night and he would be beheaded.
John the Baptist had great faith, and he was able to do this because he trusted in God’s grace. The Jesuits who sailed to Japan in the 17th century had great faith. How about you? How strong is your faith? Although we may not go to prison for our faith, what we believe certainly is being challenged in our time.
In order to have faith, we have to have confidence that God means what he says, and that He keeps those promises. And one of the promises concerns having our sins forgiven. Is your desire to follow Christ strong enough to see the need to have your sins forgiven?
Sometimes our sins can create a kind of “prison” for us. Or we may look at ourselves in the mirror and think that it’s too late to have our sins forgiven. When we experience those moments, perhaps Christ is tapping us on the shoulder and whispering to us that he has a way out—-a release for us. Making us aware of this is one of the messages of the Advent Season.
Christmas is coming soon! This is a great time to find release from the “prison” of our sins. Let your faith be strengthened through the experience of Reconciliation. On Thursday, December 19th, we will have our Parish Advent Penance Service. It begins at 7:00. There will be several priests here so things won’t go too long.
Believe! Have confidence in God as did John the Baptist. “Be strong, fear not! God, Himself will save you!”