Hail, Caesar! and Our Lenten Journey

The other day my friend Patrick and I went to see the new Cohen Brothers' film, Hail, Caesar! It's a beautifully done film, chronicling a day in the life of 1950's Hollywood. Specifically, the life of Eddie Mannix, the head of physical production and studio 'fixer.' The film centers around the mysterious disappearance of Baird Whitlock played by Oscar Award winning actor George Clooney. The interesting part for me was the film that Baird Whitlock was filming before he disappears.

"Hail Caesar: a Tale of Christ's Life" is a Roman soldier's (played by Baird Whitlock) response to Jesus the Christ. One scene of that movie in particular stood out to me. During the climactic moment of the film within the film, we see Baird at the foot of the cross giving a soliloquy about who Christ is, and then all of the sudden we hear from the director, "Cut!" and Baird immediately stops and turns away from the cross. I think this can be really telling about our Lenten journey this year.

You see we are all have a date with destiny. We like Christ have turned our faces toward Jerusalem and will walk this Lenten journey from Ash Wednesday to the horror of Holy Week. The question is, will you turn away? Will you be like Baird and turn your face when you have the chance? Or will you linger in Lent for a while?

The entirety of our lives are spent juxtaposed between turning away, and turning toward. Think about it in Scripture, Ruth had the opportunity to turn away from her destiny in Bethlehem but instead turned toward to face what the future had in store. Jesus comes down from the mount of the Transfiguration and has the potential to turn away from Jerusalem, but instead he "turns his face toward Jerusalem." Or about our own lives, when faced with an issue of social justice we either turn toward the suffering of people or turn away from it. Ultimately the choice is ours.

I'm reminded of the old hymn that many a person across this country have sung, "I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back." Sure, you could turn back now, but what you have seen you can't un-see. You encounter Jesus, and you are never the same.

So this Lent, as ashes are imposed upon your forehead and you hear the passion of our Lord, may you be brave enough to turn toward your destiny. For from dust we were created and to dust we shall return.