Manly Movie Moment: Forgiveness in The Mission

July 28, 2014

While it is difficult for those who don’t frequent the sacrament of confession to understand, there is great joy to be found in true repentance. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this joy is found in the 1986 movie, The Mission.

First, some context. Rodrigo Mendoza is a former slave trader and mercenary, and he has spent years capturing native Guarani people and selling them into slavery. After being imprisoned for killing his brother, Mendoza is visited by Jesuit Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), who, after hearing Mendoza’s confession, challenges him to do penance for his sins. Rodrigo agrees, and he decides to accompany the Jesuit missionaries on the difficult journey to their remote jungle mission—all the while dragging behind him the heavy armor and weapons he used during his sinful life as a mercenary.

On their way to the mission, the travelers encounter a band of Gaurani natives. Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere is tense, as both Rodrigo and the missionaries are unsure how the natives will respond to the man who sold many of their family and friends into slavery.

What follows is a beautiful illustration of sincere penance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Remember this scene the next time you go to confession!

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Sam Guzman

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  1. Edward A. Hara says

    I remember watching this movie as part of our Sunday School class in a Presbyterian Calvinist church. I was soooooooo anti-Catholic at the time and all I could do was to stand up and criticize the hypocrisy of Catholics who go to Confession and then go right back to sin. I didn’t have any understanding of either the Catholic faith or my own sinfulness. Now I am the one going regularly to Confession, wishing I could stop offending my Lord, and needing His mercy.

    Wonderful symbolism in this movie moment as the weight of a man’s sin is released by the very ones he so offended. And how much more will God, whom we have so deeply offended, forgive us if we only humble ourselves in the confessional?

  2. James Rogers says

    Sam, I just watch The Mission this past week for the third or fourth time. I love the movie for this very scene and the final Eucharistic procession at the end. Beautiful themes of the our faith. Thank you for the post.

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