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Tears Of Repentance, Tears Of Mercy

My pastor said in his homily today:

This is the summation of Orthodoxy: Less thinking, more tears. Tears of repentance, and tears of mercy.

I immediately thought of the scene above from The Mission. To me personally, it’s the greatest moment in all cinema. Robert DeNiro plays a slave trader in colonial Latin America. He had dedicated himself to capturing Indians and selling them as slaves. Jeremy Irons plays a Jesuit missionary who helped convert the Indians, and who defended them. When DeNiro is thrown in prison for murder, Irons shows him mercy, and ransoms him to come serve in the jungle mission. DeNiro insists on making the long journey to the mountain mission dragging his armor in a bundle behind him. This is his mount of purgatory, obviously, and he drags the weight of his sin and his filth to the top — where he meets the same people, now Christians, whose families he had been pressing into slavery. And where, if they killed him, justice would have been served.

I won’t tell you what happens next. You have to watch. That scene is the essence of applied Christianity. Tears of mercy require tears of repentance, and vice versa.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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