One of my favourite plays and stories of all time is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. When I was a kid my dad used to tell me about the musical and the story behind it and at one point downloaded the soundtrack, which I listened to non-stop. My sister and I would often blast the music through the house on our old Dell laptop.
It was on my bucket list to one day see it live as a production. In 2015, I was able to tick it off after my family and I were able to see it at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney. It was truly phenomenal; the heartbreak and tragedy, the story’s ability to capture humanity at its lowest and its best is beautiful. The performance was on a Sunday night when we would usually go to church but after it was finished, with tears still fresh in our eyes my mom turned to me and said: “Wow, I feel like I just went to church.” It’s something that’s stuck with me for a while, because the story in itself remains to be a story of radical forgiveness, love, and new beginnings not unlike the Gospel.
To truly love
I often think of the lyrics of the song “Epilogue.” Two lines that stand out are: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” It harkens back to so many verses in Scripture but one that stands out the most is the sentiments of John chapter 10 verse 27 and the proceeding parable of the Good Samaritan. It is the ultimate calling. Do good to others even when it is hard and they do not do good to you. It’s God’s greatest commandment, yet we tend to put it at a lower priority than other things.
We take verses such as this for granted. We prioritise other verses, verses on right and wrong, do this don’t do that, but we neglected to love as the Samaritan loved far, far too often. Our first reaction should be empathy, understanding and compassion rather than judgement. When we see someone different or lost or isolated our first call to action is understand and reach out with a loving hand and not to make excuses to do otherwise.
Choosing to do good
I often think of Javert and his relentless journey to re-indict Jean Valjean in the context of the other brother in the story of the prodigal son. He is solely focused on law that he forgets grace, love, and people’s capacity for change. The reminder that the father gives him is simple: you could have been rejoicing and celebrating, you have always been with me, and there was no need for this vindication. We can often get caught up in this too, especially in the rules and finger pointing, we forget to look at our own past and the life we used to have. None of us were born perfect, but we can choose to do good. We can choose to put prejudice aside and reach out in compassion.
Loving when it’s difficult
We need to remember love in times where it is difficult to love. We were once all the prodigal son or perhaps we were the other brother, but something we constantly need to remember is regardless of whether we have followed the rules our whole life or we have broken everyone of them, we still need the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
Hope Pratt is an American Australian starting her first year at University. She and her family I lived in Afghanistan for 6 years before moving to Australia. Hope is currently living in Sydney, which has been herlongest home yet.