Becoming Men and Women of Mercy: A Les Mis Reflection by Bill

les mis

Becoming Men and Women of Mercy: A Les Mis Reflection by Bill

I am a BIG musical fan and have seen Les Miserables three times in the theater…but it took a movie to bring the themes of this musical home to me.  Les Mis, which has garnered numerous Golden Globes already, is one of the most Christian movies I have found out there!  The themes in this movie are not hidden as they are in many movies, but stand out and center you on them.  Like a good sermon that wraps your head and your heart around an idea until that idea becomes a part of you, Les Mis does the same.

It’s theme?  Mercy!

It begins when a bishop shows mercy on Jean Valjean.  From that moment on, Jean becomes the “man of mercy.”  Opposite him is Javier…the man of judgement.  He sees the world in black and white and longs for justice.  There is no place for mercy for him.

The theme of mercy weaves into the story of Les Mis as it wrestles with the questions like: What happens when mercy is denied by one who is the “Man of Mercy?”  What amends can you make when you have previously denied mercy to another?  How far does mercy go?  What happens to your enemy when you show them mercy?

All these questions, and more, are examined in the story of Les Mis.

Through these reflections, I have come to see how easy judgment is and how hard grace is.  To judge is an easy task!  Anyone can do it.  Just walk up to someone and notice something wrong about them and…voila!… you’ve just judged them!  But to show them mercy…to be graceful to them?  That’s hard!  And where does that grace end?  Does it end at one act of grace?  Two?  Do you go above and beyond with grace and mercy?  Or is there a line you draw that says: “No more!”  And what about the one who’s been your enemy for so long?  Do you show them grace and mercy?  Or judgment and hate!?

Jean in the end becomes the Christ figure of the story, bestowing mercy on everyone he meets.  Through the act of mercy at the beginning, Jean becomes mercy incarnate the rest of the film!  He is merciful to Fantine’s daughter, adopting her as his own, spending a fortune just to ransom her from the innkeepers.  He shows mercy to Javier who is out to bring him to justice.  He shows mercy to Thenardier, a man who is in love with Cossette.

And finally, the one who is mercy is shown mercy at his deathbed.

For me, despite the terrible cinematography that moved from one close up to another and made it almost unbearable to watch on the big screen and some inappropriate content, the theme of Les Miserables and the story stands out strong.  I will be buying this when it comes out on video.  If only just to let the music play on in the background.

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