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confession – the Godfather

Where does it say somewhere rather to chop off that portion of your body that makes you sin rather than to condemn the entire soul to hell?

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. – Matthew 5:30

Time and time again. I hate and despise my self. I do not want to sin no more. So fallen and weak. Serving flesh. I really don’t understand, it doesn’t seem logical at all. Why would God ever want to choose me? I am totally weak and useless. When I thought there was progress (a linear form of thought by the way, of measuring earthly phenomena), I still had nothing. Crushed. At the slight of the hand. Abased and brought to bear. I cannot try to stand alone.

Transgressed again! How dreadful and fearful. Why have I to continue on in this fallen world, this fallen existence, that time and again I gather up iniquity against myself? I cannot do that which I want to, and yet do that which I will not. Repent!

I have sinned. I have always sinned. The more the shining light of the gospel penetrates the darker I realise myself to be. Against the perfection of Christ can which fallen creature of this earth stand??

Lewis was right. Every small little thought, no matter how harmless it may seem, builds up.

Yet God loved us first. Unconditionally. For the scum that I am.

Godfather III comes to my mind.

Don Michael Corleone tries to turn a new leaf, through his old ways. After all, he has the power. There are unflattering portrayals of the Catholic Church. But after a while he still finds himself inseparable from the web and culture of violence he is locked into.

Then the events takes him back to old Sicily, where he traces back his history, the violence he grew up with and the how his heart of vengence was born and fuelled by it through his life.

In the middle of trying to secure support political support from the CC, he is led to a Cardinal in the area. Instead of even listening, the Cardinal’s humble constitution persuades him to confess, something he hadn’t done for a long time. He recounted, with an aching heart and flowing tears, all the grave transgressions he had committed. For dramatic effect of course, it has to be things like killing your brother, murder, and so on.

Condemned is the fallen nature of man. But recognition what a sinner one is is perhaps still better than flat denial, or explaining it away, or thinking it doesn’t matter, locked up in a pride that refuses to confess. At least that recognition does show some light in your life, that you see the darkness all over.

The Cardinal said “Although you do not believe, but the blood of Christ washes away all sin.”

Its not a blanket pardon or just a blank check, but only out of faith does the above statement hold any effect.

After that, both men stood silent.

Several scenes later, one of Michael’s old friends gets killed by an assasin going after him. He is painfully moved, and cries out “And I will sin no more”. Struggle. Painful struggle. And in a symbolic action, hands over his Mafia power away to an aspiring underling.

Of course, for dramatic effect, his daughter still gets killed by those seeking to kill him in the end.

He had been trying so hard to atone for himself by his own actions.

He tried to do legitimate business. But his past caught up with him.

He tried to justify himself by saying he wanted to protect his family. But after a while he realised he was just pursuing himself. (reference his opera singing son)

He gave all his power up. But still lost the one closest to his heart in this world.

Symbolically, he dies old and white-haired sitting on a rocking-chair in the countryside.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

What do we get from the story? Fate? Perhaps. In the sense nothing is really in our control. Retribution? I told you so? These are thoughts of a vengeful heart.

But one man’s vain search for the redemption of his soul, when all he had to do was ask the One who is best positioned to give it.

Forgive us Father, for the things we don’t want to do, for the things that we don’t know we do. And guide us and hold us, even when we fall and ignore you and follow ourselves, when we say You are troublesome and when there is the slightest suggestion that Your covenent in Christ is not enough to sustain us. Banish those thoughts away from us and keep us close.

Amen.

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