Sunday, May 29, 2011

I will not leave you orphans: "Annie" and "Despicable Me"

I will not leave you orphans

So there are two orphan movies that come to mind: One is for the older crowd… think red hair, the sun will come out TOMORROW… Annie. The other is the recent movie Despicable Me. There’s a great similarity between these two movies. Both have a crotchety old man that’s not thrilled with the idea of children and by the end they each become loveable teddy bears. But more importantly both have children that never give up hope that they will be adopted into a loving family.

Now, Jesus came to reveal to us that God the Father is not the crotchety, temperamental, character. He is in truth an unconditionally loving, all embracing, supporting, personal Father.

In despicable me, when a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds their love is profoundly changing him for the better. It is Gru at the end of the story, reading a personally written story to the children, that is much more like God the Father.

And similarly in Annie, which is the Broadway musical based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. A young orphan girls adventures in finding a family that will take her. God the Father is much like “Daddy Warbucks” at the end of the movie – delighting in us, treasuring us, and promising us that He will never let us go.

This is a timeless story because until we find ourselves in the safety and securely in the arms of the Father we will constantly seek and search for that unconditional love in ways that we will never find it.

At some point in our lives we face this dilemma that our parents will not always be with us... and we experience being an orphan. I was surprised when I first heard a good priest mentor of mine say sadly and sincerely after his parents died... “I'm now an orphan.” And while it’s true, Jesus doesn’t ever want us to forget that we really aren’t orphans…

And so He gives us these reassuring words:

But you know him, because he remains with you,

and will be in you.

I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

Jesus reveals to us that we have a Father, He with us, when we receive the Eucharist He is in us, and we are in him, and it's more than we ever could imagine.

There's a funny scene in Annie when she first comes to Daddy Warbuck's home: The head maid says to Annie, so what would you like to do first. Annie responds... as she looks around the mansion and grabs a bucket and rags... "The windows, then the floors. That way if I drip..." She doesn't get it. As an adopted one she is no longer a slave. Annie is now going to be introduced to a life better than she could ever have imagined.

And Gru changes from Grumpy to jolly in Despicable Me:

The first time he reads to the children:

Gru: [reading book] "Three little kittens love to play. They had fun in the sun all day. Then their mother came out and said, 'Time for kittens to go to bed'."
[looks up]
Gru: Wow, this is garbage. You actually like this?

And at the end he reads them the book that he himself wrote:

Gru: One big unicorn, strong and free, thought he was happy as he could be. Then three little kittens came around and turned his whole life upside down. They made him laugh, they made him cry. He never should have said goodbye. And now he knows he can never part from those three little kittens that changed his heart.

The same is true for us once we realize that we are not orphans, that we have a Father who loves us and provides for us. We will stop seeking our security in others; we will stop trying to provide for ourselves, we will stop being slaves and become His children.

At the end of Annie, after a “Daddy Warbucks” finally is able to adopt Annie, he and Annie are together and they break out into the touching song: "Together Forever."


Together at last!

Together for ever!

We're tying a knot,

They never can sever!


I don't need sunshine now,

To turn my skies at blue --


I don't need anything but you!

God the Father is fighting so hard to adopt you. We find ourselves so often entangled in possessive, manipulative, needy relationships that are not life-giving. But what it means to be truly loved, when we know this acceptance and freedom we too will desire to be "together forever with God" and then Eternal Life begins.

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