Thursday, April 27, 2006


Rodrigo Mendoza is an 18th-century Spaniard played by Robert DeNiro in the 1986 movie The Mission. You could say he carries around a lot of personal baggage.

Mendoza’s guilt is symbolized by a large net filled with armor and weapons. He keeps it tied to his back by a long rope and makes himself drag it as he and the Jesuit monks travel on foot through forest and river.

Father Gabriel, played by Jeremy Irons, tries to convince Mendoza to stop punishing himself, but nothing anyone can say persuades him to release the burden.

Mendoza: For me there is no redemption, no penance great enough.

Father Gabriel: There is. But do you dare to try it?

Mendoza: Do you dare to see it fail?

He believes he is too far from God to deserve anything. He refuses to allow anybody to cut it loose, even though it almost makes him fall to his death, climbing up slippery rocks beside a mountain waterfall.

Finally, he almost makes it to the top, but the net is caught on rocks. One of the Jesuits takes out a knife and cuts the rope. The heavy bag of armor falls a long way into the river. Mendoza is released from his impossible burden and saved.

Maybe you have been feeling a lot like Rodrigo Mendoza. Maybe you have been symbolically dragging around for years some tremendous bag of rusty iron scraps or stuff that smells like death. Maybe you just got back home from spending a few days at some event, like, say, the Walk to Emmaus. And maybe as a result of what happened there, you feel closer to God now than you had ever dreamed possible—and maybe you feel like Mendoza did when he reached the top of the rocks by the waterfall and the Jesuit cut loose his burden—alive and freed.

The air at the top is cool and fresh and the music is sweet . . . .

Earth’s Biggest Movie Database.

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