Sunday, 15 January 2017

Silence (2)

Not sure what exactly Martin Scorsese wanted to depict in Silence.  Was it the harsh Japanese regime? Or the plight of the local Japanese Catholics? Or the deep faith of the poor peasant Catholics?  Or was it the inner turmoil of well-intentioned and doctrinally sound priests like Fr Sebastian Rodrigues, Fr Garupe and Fr Ferreira? Or is it the challenges of pastoral work in a context so different and complex that formation or doctrine never defines or never really prepares one for?  Perhaps it was one of these or all of these.

If the Japanese inquisitor and his team thought that cutting the 'roots' (eliminating Catholic priests) would curtail Christianity, then they did not really have a good understanding of their own people and culture.  If the priests were really struggling with their pastoral dilemma, it actually didn't look like, though there is the inner struggle but not very convincing.  If the silence of God was the real point, even that is broken when 'God seems to speak' at that crucial point when Fr Rodriguez steps on the image of Jesus.  However, the movie really doesn't capture any of it very forcefully - at least not form me.  In a way, The Mission was far more appealing than this one... at least in terms of portraying personal charisma in conflict with mission work or the harmonious blending of the two.  But I still fail to see the focus of the movie.  Speaking of silence, I think Noah fares far far better than this.

The first thing that struck me as I got up from the seat at the end of the movie was this question that I asked myself: What would I do if were in such a situation?

Interestingly just as we (Fr John and I) were walking out of the theatre, a young couple came up to us and asked if we were priests?  And when we did acknowledge, they were happy that their guess was right. We did spend a couple of minutes discussing the movie in the corridors.  They were indeed moved by the whole idea of being persecuted for faith and how common folk were so convinced of their belief.  That Christianity continued to survive even without the presence of priests in Japan for hundreds of years, only shows that priests or religious are not really the one doing the work of 'evangelization'... it is primarily God and His people.  

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