The movie The Mission is an illustration of how we justify our choice of what benefits us here on this world rather than focusing on the renovation of our soul.  This movie is about a representative from the Roman Catholic Church who comes to South America to resolve a situation involving the Spanish, Portuguese, and the Jesuits.  The Jesuits are ministering, with good success, to the Indians.  The Portuguese wished to enlarge their territory, the Spanish wished to not be harmed by this enlargement, the Pope was concerned that Spain and Portugal not threaten the power of the church, and all were concerned that the Jesuits not prevent all of this from occurring.  The states in Europe were tearing at the authority of the church and to preserve its power, the church must show its authority over the Jesuits.  If the church did not control the Jesuits and give Spain and Portugal what they wanted, they threatened to expel the Jesuits from their territories and other European states might follow.  The problem with giving Spain and Portugal what they wanted was that the rights of the Indians would be trampled.  Portugal was involved in capturing the Indians for slaves and Spain, while professing to be against slavery, was actively involved.  The European settlers in South America believed the Indians were animals, must be subdued by the sword, and must be brought to profitable labor by the whip.  Meanwhile, the Jesuits had assisted the Indians in developing a thriving commercial enterprise in farming and woodworking that competed against the European settlers.  The representative from Rome attempted to convince the Jesuits and Indians that the Indians must give up their commercial enterprises, return to the jungle, and give Portugal the land it wanted.  The Indians and Jesuits refused so the representative from Rome gave permission to the armies of Portugal and Spain to force the removal of the Indians from their settlements.  The result was a great loss of life among the Indians.

In attempting to justify the slaughter of the Indians to the representative of Rome, the European leaders in South America remarked that none of them had any alternative.  Because of the political situation in Europe, they did what they had to do.  They stated:  “We must work in the world; the world is thus.”  To this attempt to justify the recently completed horrific actions, the representative from Rome replies with a truth he learned much too late, “No, thus we have made the world.” [1]

All of us are like the European settlers in South America and the representative from Rome.  We are more concerned about preserving our earthly political, economic, and social power instead of creating a world where God’s values guide our actions.  In other words, we value our political, economic, and social power more than we do God’s values.  Our excuse is that we live in the world and to survive we must, at times, do what is we know to be wrong.  This is Machivelli’s philosophy; it certainly is not Christian.  This is why some believe the Christian moral code to be impractical; if we try to always do good, the world will have us for lunch.  In many instances the world will take advantage of us but that is why Jesus asks, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36).

We make choices every day.  We have the choice of taking actions that will make our world more like the one Christ envisioned or taking actions that will perpetuate the evil that permeates our world.  We have the choice of taking actions that will make the world a better place to live or taking actions that continue the inequality and injustice we observe every day.  The choice is ours.  We cannot blame God; we cannot blame our DNA; we cannot blame our fate.  It is up to us to choose what our value system will be, what type of person we want to be, what our soul will be like.  We create our soul, and thereby our world and our future, through the values we hold and the choices we make.


[1]   Roland Joffé, Director. The Mission.  With Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons.  Warner Bros., 1986.

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