There are two kinds of movies.
The first kind of movie entertains you. It’s designed to make you feel good…and to make Hollywood a lot of money. Its story line is conventional and predictable: a young girl carries a dream in her heart. But something terrible happens and gets in the way of her accomplishing her dream. At some point, she catches the eye of a coach who sees her potential. There will be some resistance at first, but then, some personal insight takes place.
This is followed by scenes of rigorous training and growing confidence. Quickly, the plot gains speeds and sprints to a glorious end: a championship won, a trophy held aloft, a crowded stadium erupts with applause.
This is one kind of movie. But there is also a second kind of movie. One that is designed, not to entertain, but to take you to a place where you’ve not been before. A film called The Rider is that kind of movie. It’s about a cowboy on his way to becoming a champion bronc rider. He gets bucked off his horse and suffers a permanent injury. His friends rally around and tell him: “Don’t give up! Don’t give up on your dream!” But this where the movie changes from the first kind of movie to the second kind.
The Rider is not a movie designed to make you feel good. It is not a movie about grit or will-power. Rather, it is a movie in which a young man has to put down a horse that’s as wounded and useless as he is. The climactic scene does not occur in a stadium but inside the cap of a pickup truck on a back road with that young man crying his eyes out because he has come to the end of his dream and has no place to go.
So, yes, there are two kinds of movies. Those that entertain and those that tell the truth.
Sometimes, you and I come to church expecting the Holy Mass to entertain us like some Hollywood movie. Instead, we find ourselves gazing an image of a man on a cross crying out, “My God, why have you forsaken me!”
Unlike most movies, the Mass leads us to a place where most folks would rather not go.
You won’t leave Mass today with a trophy in your hand. All you get is a piece of bread.
Take a close look at today’s first reading and you’ll know what I’m talking about. We find ourselves with a prophet named Elijah who is hiding out in a cave. Like the cowboy in The Rider, Elijah is at the end of his rope. He wants to give up. “Take my life, God!” he says. “Take my life. I can’t go on!”
In despair and exhaustion, he falls asleep. How does God reply? He simply sets out a jug of water and a loaf of bread. When the prophet awakes, God says to him, “Eat the bread. Or the journey will be too much for you.”
“Eat the bread. Or the journey will be too much for you.”
Does this sound like a Hollywood movie to you? Not to me! To me it sounds real. It sounds honest.
It sounds like a broken man crying inside his pickup cab. It sounds like an inmate screaming in solitary confinement. It sounds like a young girl whimpering as she cuts herself in the corner of her bedroom.
Friends, the Word of God is not Hollywood entertainment or Marvel Comics. Rather, it deals with life. Real life. And real faith.
“Take and eat. Or the journey will be too much for you.”
In other words, life is hard and Satan is strong, but…
“I am the Bread of Life,” says the Lord. “Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Jesus experienced human brokenness so we could be restored. “My God, why have you forsaken me,” would soon become: “Touch the scars in my hand…and believe.”
—Believe that I have the courage you need you are filled with fear.
—Believe that I am the love you seek when you have been abused and abandoned.
—Believe that in this broken Bread, my heart is torn for you.
“Eat this Bread, for to journey alone will be too much for you. Eat this Bread…and I will be your strength.”