A brief, but profound sermon from a surprising movie

In the early evening of Christmas Eve, my wife and I watched for the second time. the movie “Chocolat” starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, Hugh O’Conor among others. While it seemed a strange choice to show on Christmas Eve, the movie is about the ugliness of exclusion toward newcomers who do not fit in and the redemptive power of kindness and inclusion.

The mayor played by Molina, led a town who used overt piety as a means to treat a single woman and her daughter poorly, even trying to close down her sinful chocolate shop. The mayor even edited the young priest’s sermons.

After the realization he was on a bad path late in the movie, the mayor and others see the error of their ways. Freed from the mayor’s editing, the priest, played by O’Conor, offers an off-the-cuff homily on Easter Sunday. Its brevity should not betray its profound message.

“I’m not sure what the theme of my homily today ought to be. Do I want to speak of the miracle of Our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about His divinity. I’d rather talk about His humanity. I mean, you know, how He lived His life, here on Earth. His *kindness*, His *tolerance*… Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around… measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think… we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace*, what we create… and who we include.”

Amen. This is the overarching message of Jesus, which is so profound, it can be found in other religioius texts. Treat others like you want to be treated.

Let me close with the other key message of the priest and the movie theme. When religion includes it is at its finest. When it excludes it is at its absolute worst. Welcome people. That is what Jesus did.

7 thoughts on “A brief, but profound sermon from a surprising movie

  1. The first book that I read by the English novelist, Joanne Harris, was “Chocolat”. I was drawn to the title due to the fact that my youngest Daughter is a chocolatier and I really enjoyed the book. The December 2000 movie is based on her novel. When the movie was released my two daughters and I made a family night event of it, mayhaps this is why it remains so clearly in my mind. Or, it could be that the DVD has been often watched too! I totally agree with your thoughts about the sermon. There is an Amish Proverb that I heard spoken by an Amish elder whilst still a child : “Do unto others as if you were the other.” I taught these words to live by to my children and now to my grandson. A perfect Christmas Day post…Thank-you! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    • Ellen, many thanks for sharing your personal history with this book and movie. I think I like the Amish proverb better than the bible’s version. It males it more simple. Thanks for your kind words. Merry Christmas. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: Remembering my mother, she took to heart Jesus’ example of how to live. My mother was an elementary school teacher, a bible study fellowship teacher, and the kindest of souls. When someone lost a loved one, she was the one who organized the food for the funeral reception and family from the church.

    Was she perfect? Of course not. But she was a good mother, friend, relative and colleague. Thanks for everything mom.

  3. I haven’t seen the movie, but the message of inclusion is spot on, in my book. When we accept and embrace the differences of others, we become so much richer for it. This is one of the things I have against organized religion … it seems to promote bigotry and exclusion, tribalism at its worst. Thanks for a timely reminder at the end of this Christmas day, my friend.

    • Jill, refer to Ellen’s comment about the book and movie. I like Juliette Binoche since she co-starred in The English Patient. She plays the chocolatier mother.

      I agree about the organized reliigion. Rules of governing lives have occurred for centuries, not always with altruistic intent. For example, Catholic priests used to be married until marriage was outlawed in the 12th century. The message was slow, with some priests marrying until the 16th century. The reason – the second born son inherited land and became a priest. The church would then get the land.

      Keith

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