Les Miserables and the Gift of Grace

Les_Miserables_poster_CNA_US_Catholic_News_1_10_13I went and saw Les Miserables last night. The movie was as fantastic as people have been saying.

There is so much depth, truth, and brilliance in it. In fact, it has one of my favorite scenes of all time in a movie. What happens is this. Jean Valjean steals a bunch of silver from a bishop. He is caught and brought before the bishop, and the priest tells the policeman that he didn’t steal these items they were his gift to Jean. The beautiful part is when he says, “But in your haste, you left behind the best, the silver candlesticks”. He then gives them to Jean val Jean.

And this little interaction changes the whole course of the movie, and most of all Jean Valjean’s life.

The point is that grace and gift can do this. Grace and gift can change the course of someone’s life. They can alter the direction and pattern of a life. And that scene is a wonderful picture of God’s grace. God’s grace doesn’t simply cover up wrongs, by saying the stolen goods were given to Jean Valjean, it overwhelms the wrongs with abundance (giving him the candlesticks). God’s grace always goes the extra mile. And it changes people.

The problem is that giving grace like this is so hard that it is so rare. People often say but I can’t give grace to…them…they don’t deserve it. That is precisely the point. They don’t deserve but sometimes getting something you don’t deserve is what actually changes you.

The truth is people often live up to your expectations of them. The priest changed Jean Valjean because he expected something different of him. Javert, the main policeman believed he would always be a thief. The priest saw Jean Valjean as a gift from God and that makes all the difference.

So today why not give grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it, why not expect differently from them, why not see them as a gift from God. Who knows one little gift could change their life…because isn’t that how all Christian lives have been changed? One gift from God above, sending his son to us below?

And if you get a chance go see the movie it’s worth it, because stories about grace are always worth it…

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