I always cry during Finding Nemo. Shocking right? A woman crying in a Pixar movie is, like, a dime a dozen. But…it might not be the scene you think it is. But you should know this one: Marlin and Dory are stuck inside a rapidly-emptying whale while Dory attempts to “speak Whale” to find out what’s going on:
Dory: “He says it’s time to let go. Everything’s going to be all right.”
Marlin: “How do you know something bad isn’t gonna happen?”
Dory: “I don’t.”
And with that, he lets go.
Cue waterworks. I cannot help but be moved by Dory’s faith. By her peaceful willingness to let go in the midst of what seems like a hopeless situation.
I cry during this scene because sometimes I have had a hard time letting go. My faith shaken at the broken marriages, sickness, death, disease, destruction, abuse, betrayal, tragedy … suffering.
I have had my faith shaken and been faced with decision after decision to either trust in myself and turn away from a God who says that He loves me. Or to trust with faith in a God who I know loves me, thereby relinquishing control and letting go.
My brothers and sisters: Let go we must.
In the readings this Sunday, we are invited to do just that. This week we celebrate a loving, glorious King – Christ the King – a King who saves. We hear in the first reading about the anointing of David as King of Israel. In the second reading we see such a beautiful description of who Jesus is as our King, inviting us to give thanks to God for the gift of this King to us. “He is the image of the invisible God… He is before all things and in Him all things hold together…. He is the head… He is the beginning… In Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell … through Him to reconcile all things to Him… Making peace by the blood of His cross…“ Truth. Holy, holy Truth.
Yet, at the beginning of the Gospel reading, we see very little peace of this cross. Instead, the rulers mock Jesus; the soldiers make fun of Him. Each one imploring to Him their own misunderstanding of suffering, which is, essentially, “If you really are who you say you are, prove it to us. DON’T JUST HANG THERE AND SUFFER … SAVE YOURSELF!!” Because, after all, why would a professed “Christ of God” allow Himself to suffer and die when He can muster the heavens to His bidding?
And then we have the two thieves at Jesus’ side. Here lies the true representation of all of us. One thief again questions Jesus with an evident lack of faith. The other comes to Jesus’ aid – rebuking the first thief, claiming his own condemnation, acknowledging the innocent good in Jesus and then beautifully “letting go” in faith when he states, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
I’ve heard it said that ‘suffering makes atheists.’ I know, because I’ve encountered those atheists. “There can be no peace in suffering, and there can be no good in it. Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God allow for the suffering of His children? Why doesn’t He make Himself known? Why doesn’t He save us!?!” I know great Christians who have struggled with these very questions, holding on white-knuckled to their own understanding…their own selves. You can hang there forever, or you can let go into the arms of the King. And what holds us there? I think Peter Kreeft said it best in his essay “Christ the King, not Christ the kitten.”
“What holds us back? Fear of paying the price. What is the price? The answer is simple. T.S. Eliot defines the Christian life as: “A condition of complete simplicity/Costing not less than/Everything.” The price is everything: 100%. A worse martyrdom than the quick noose or stake: the martyrdom of dying daily, dying to all your desires and plans, including your plans about how to become a saint. A blank check to God. Complete submission, “islam,” “fiat”—Mary’s thing.”
So today, my brothers and sisters in Christ, which side of the cross do you hang on? When it comes time to give everything to the King – will you hang there in mistrust?
My prayer… is that you let go.
“Amen, I say to you,today you will be with me in Paradise.”