“…when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you.” Matt. 5:11
I won’t give anything away about The Departed, but I will say that its ending was a letdown.
Up until the final scene, this was a well-acted, well-directed movie about two double agents (Leonardo Dicaprio and Matt Damon) who work for two leaders in the Boston community, one a police captain (Martin Sheen), another a mob boss (Jack Nicholson), whose agents go undercover in the other’s organization. It sounds confusing, but it works for a great work of cinema by one of Hollywood’s greatest directors, Martin Scorsese.
In the days following seeing this movie, as I was wrestling with its letdown ending, it occurred to me: life is not really full of happy moments that wrap up neatly in two hours.
Life has awkward, difficult, and challenging moments, and resolutions don’t come for days, weeks, even years. In the meantime, the road can be hard.
When Christ talked about the Kingdom of God, he did not talk about harp-stringing angels and cloudless sunny skies; instead, in the weeks preceding his death, he talked to those in Jerusalem about the coming persecutions and even prepared his disciples for these times: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven will be great.” (Matt. 5:11-12).
In life we aim for the resurrection, as Christ did in his ministry. But resurrection cannot be achieved unless there is sacrifice, hardship, and even death to self. At any moment in our life, we can get discouraged because, like The Departed, it isn’t wrapping up nicely.
As I write this, it has been weeks since we have put our house on the market to be sold; in those weeks, very few people have visited and we are far from selling our home. Every evening I come home from work without having sold our place, it seems like a bad, uncomfortable, awkward ending to the day. That’s how life is, in big and small ways.
I know I have wanted to just give up at times like that. It’s natural and it’s human to want to do that. But we are called to higher standards. We are called to hope in our own resurrection.
These pain, suffering, and death experiences in our lives are known as “the paschal mystery,” mirroring our life with the life of Christ who at his last Passover, had to suffer and die before rising again. When our lives are judged, we will not be judged for having bad days, but how we got through them and how we believed in the hope of resurrection.
The ending of The Departed leaves us hanging, leaves us wanting more. That’s great. That’s life. When we go to bed tonight, we will have some issues in life that we have not yet resolved; however, we live our lives in hope because we live for something more.
At times like that, we are called to rise to the occasion and gladly experience the passion; only then can we get to the resurrection that awaits each and every one of us.