I watched the new Les Mis and loved it. Hugh Jackman was surprisingly good: Near the end I actually thought they might have been dubbing it, because I thought he sounded so much like the Broadway soundtrack. (I didn’t think that in the beginning of the movie; I need to watch it again to see if I just adjusted or what.) Russell Crowe was the only one who really made me wonder what his agent was thinking, but I actually think more highly of him for being willing to sing like that in front of the world. I don’t mean he was awful, I’m just saying, he sounded like a schoolgirl and I’m surprised he was willing to do that.
Anyway, I was struck (yet again–I have seen this in several formats many times since childhood) by how crucial the bishop is to the whole story. To set the scene: Valjean is paroled after doing 19 years of hard labor for stealing bread for his starving niece. He can’t get any work because of his prison record. A kind bishop takes him in, giving him a warm meal and place to stay for the night. In the night Valjean steals the silver and takes off, but is hauled back by the police. Here’s what happens (go to 3:15):
Once Valjean is on the receiving end of such mercy and grace, he becomes a fountain of it in his own life, eventually doing something that is far nobler than what the bishop did.
In your own life, you may often feel that you’re a sucker for turning the other cheek and being classy or kind or whatever word is appropriate. But remember that you might inspire that one person out of 100 who will learn from your example and amplify it tenfold. Then someone will see his example, and so forth. Just as we can’t fully anticipate the full ramifications of our sins, so too we can’t comprehend just how helpful our mercy and compassion will be.
Take a chance.