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Lectio: Woman in Gold, Matthew 16:21-28, and Luke 18:1-8
Meditatio: The phrase from Matthew that sticks with me today is "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Although Woman in Gold's main protagonist is Maria Altman (Helen Mirren), viewing the film in this context of prayer, I was touched by her lawyer, Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). As the case to retrieve art belonging to Maria's family and stolen by the Nazis in World War II progressed, Randy quit his job and dedicated all his time and resources to Maria's case. This put his wife and two children in a precarious financial position. Pam Schoenberg (Katie Holmes) showed unconditional love and support for her husband. When the case stretches out, Maria is ready to give up and admit defeat. Randy goes to convince her to continue but she won't budge. He gets angry with her, telling her of all the sacrifices he's made personally for her and her cause. Maria relents and agrees to continue.
This scene really touched me. Randy has denied himself as well as brought his family into the denial. In the end, the rewards come but Randy didn't do it for a reward but because it was the right thing to do. His anger at Maria is justified, just as St. Peter's is in the Gospel story where he tells Jesus, "We've given up everything for you!" I know this is mixing Scripture stories, but hey, this is where the Holy Spirit has led me today.
I, too, can be tempted, especially when things seem difficult to yell at Jesus and say, "I've given up everything to follow you! How about showing me a little love here?" Well, just as Randy found out, if I want to follow Jesus, I must deny myself take up my cross and follow him. It will not always be easy. The Master's love will always be with me, even if I have a hard time seeing it sometimes
Oratio: Lord Jesus, denying myself is something I find really difficult. I like to be comfortable. Denying myself means making myself vulnerable and that is definitely uncomfortable. Help me to be able to deny myself each day so as to grow more and more like you. Let your love and your light shine in my life.
Contemplatio: I sit in quiet prayer, reveling in the long, loving look of Jesus.
Actio: As a result of praying with Woman in Gold and the Scriptures, I feel called to deny myself in order to follow Jesus. Concretely, I'm resolving to be more disciplined with my "work" hours. Most of the time, I work alone and I find I can get distracted easily. Jesus calls me to give my whole self to him and deny myself in following him. I am going to put together a schedule for myself so as to cut down on distractions, thus denying myself and being more attentive to the mission I've been given.