Recently, as we were edging closer and closer towards our fiscal cliff-mas, I shared many others’ concerns regarding how sadly polarized our government has become. That quickly expanded to similar concerns about our culture and church all while the soundtrack of Les Misérables played in heavy rotation in the background.
Which leads me to Johanna’s earlier comments and the character of Inspector Javert. He lives in a very ordered world. Everything is as black and white as the stars against the night sky and
it all makes sense for him.
SPOILER ALERT: Yet, when Javert commits suicide at the end, it was only the external embodiment of the death inside himself already. He could never allow himself or any other to grow beyond some determined point of his life.
Javet tells the one that he only can see as “Prisoner 24601” that Men like you can never change. That is because he cannot see the growth of Jean Valjean because, if he did, he would have to consider growth himself. Javet has grown! From the chaos of poverty to the order of the law — but then he stopped or did not continue to grow or became stuck into a pattern in which he would die.
Polarization becomes about one’s perspective on justice… where is the order to be found and clarified? Higher taxes? Lower spending? Guns in the schools? Less assault weapons available on the streets? whatever is “our” way of doing church? Leadership should not involve demagoguery where one utilizes popular prejudices, false claims and promises in order to gain power.
Yet, God’s view on everything seems to related to the quality of mercy — a compassion based in hope and a longer range view that might be God’s. The bishop takes this on in a transformative moment of Valjean’s life.
Maybe we should be less concerned about social justice and more directed towards social mercy. Maybe we might consider the concept of transforming workcamps into Mercy Experiences. Maybe we re-consider not what must remain as much as where God’s transformative mercy might induce growth.
More than anything else, when we find ourselves in times of polarization, might our prayer be May God have mercy on our souls