THURSDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies to watch as a kid. The nanny that flew in and made everything better...it was just a very joyful movie! I could not stop singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" for days after each time I saw it. Earlier this week, I watched Saving Mr. Banks with a friend. The movie tells the story of Walt Disney trying to make the story of Mary Poppins into a movie. He runs into difficulty with P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins stories, as she is unwilling to give up the rights to the book. She believes that Disney does not understand the heart of the story and would not do justice to her character. I'll try to not spoil it for you, but Disney learns that the story was Mrs. Travers' way of coping with her dark past (especially her alcoholic father), and they eventually end up making the movie. But now, I look at Mary Poppins in a whole new way. She does not come to save the children, but the parents. I sometimes feel the same way about many of Jesus’ parables. I learned them one way as a kid, and then as an adult, when I read them in light of my life experiences, they rock my world.
The Gospel reading today, tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man. As a kid, I thought: Lazarus goes to heaven, and rich man rots in hell; money bad, poor good; kingdom of god is for the poor; blah, blah, blah. But now I realize that it is much more. Last semester, I studied abroad in the Philippines and I fell in love with the faith that I saw in the Filipino people. Every day, they made the hard choice to trust in God. They have this idea of “kaya namin,” which essentially translates to “we are able.” I see it as a manifestation of their hope and faith that God, or some higher power, is just on their side. I spent my spring break on an immersion trip in the Walnut Park and O’Fallon Park neighborhoods in the Northside of St. Louis. The faith of the people that I met last week, rekindled the fire that burned in me in the Philippines. In Baptist churches, you often hear the phrase: “Thanks be to God, who is the head of my life.” It is that kind of a faith that I am jealous of. I wish that I could give myself over to a God completely, and I struggle with it every day.
What I now gather from today’s Gospel is best summed up in the responsorial psalm: “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.” I doubt that Jesus wants all the rich folks to give up all their money and let dogs lick their sores. Instead, I suspect that he asks us to think about taking on the imagination of those that are materially poor; to have the faith of Lazarus, of my Filipino friends, or those that I met last week. In Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks finds that money may not be as important as taking the time to fly a kite worth tuppence with his family. This might be the outlook on life that a Christian should have. This Lenten season, let’s try to engage the reality of those that are marginalized all around us, and rethink some of the Gospel classics. I pray that we can all find hope in the Lord. Happy !
Nebu Kolenchery is a junior studying Public Health.