I watched two movies that on the surface, appeared completely unrelated, and the conclusions diametrically opposed. Yet they depicted two sides of our human condition. The movies were “Philomena”, and “Calvary”.

The movie, “Philomena”, is the amazing true story of a woman who goes on a journey to find her son. When it was discovered that, as a teenager, she was pregnant and unmarried, her family sent her to live at a convent that took in unwed mothers. In order to cover the costs of the order, children were routinely sold to adoptive families of means, and taken from the Convent. The birth mothers had no power to stop the adoptions and were given no records to find them later in life. Philomena’s son suffered the fate of being adopted. The convent gave her no information , and in fact, gave her false information to thwart her search for her son.

The journey takes some interesting turns. When it is revealed what happened to her son, Philomena has to make a choice as to what reparations she will exact.

The other movie, “Calvary”, opens with Father James in the confessional being told that he is going to be killed within a week. The person threatening the priest gives a litany of sexual abuses he suffered at the hands of a cleric. Father James is told that people would not take notice if the abusive priest were killed, but an innocent priest? That would draw some attention.

Father James goes through the next week attempting to divine who the killer may be and what purpose would be served by the killing. The final scene of “Calvary” is as powerful as the climax of “Philomena” and in the opposite direction.

For me, what links these two powerful movies together is the concept of reparation. How do we heal and move past great injustices? Pursuing vengeance, we find that it doesn’t give us the satisfaction we crave. Striking out, hurts others. If the hurt seek vengeance, the curse continues. If we trust in God’s justice, his love, and his mercy, and and allow Him to make things right, the cycle can stop.

The two movies, taken together make a powerful visual observation of two roads and the consequences each choice entails.

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