The larger context of this 6-second scene is that the casino needs a $20,000 permit. A Senator is trying to shake down the mafia guy by jacking this up another I think $230,000 – quite the extortion – even while the Senator insults both the mafiosi and their families. Hint: Don’t do either of those things, but especially not the latter.
The response from the mafioso guy is so predictable, and so perfect: “My offer is this: nothing.” And then the mafioso adds that it would be a wise move for the Senator guy to go ahead and himself pay for the $20,000 permit for the casino. Hah. The tables are reversed. Jesus does this all the time.
Hope is high that Jesus will laugh at the analogy which just must be made between Him and the mafiosi. I mean, if you’ve ever even once read the Sacred Scriptures, you’ll immediately see the ferocious irony, sarcasm, humor, the table-turnings (figurative and literal) all meant, of course, to put people back on the right track.
Look, I don’t see myself as being better than any mafioso if I am without the grace of God. We will all look upon Him, the One who is, who was and who is to come, the Alpha and the Omega, the Almighty, whom we have all pierced through with all our sin whilst He was lifted up on the Cross, yes, all of us, men of race, tribe, tongue, people and nation.
Having said that, yes, when I see someone trying to be even more mafioso than the mafiosi, well, they get what they deserve. I hope they also repent, but – yikes! – shaking down the mafia?!
About Jesus… the analogy here is that Jesus is the mafioso guy who says that His counter offer to the extortion is to jack up the stakes. The self-absorbed who use religion to make themselves heroes, feeling powerful in bullying, who say that they will kill Jesus unless He stops being… what is it? – more “popular” than them, well, they are answered in this way by Jesus: “My offer is… nothing.” But then Jesus will continue: Not only will I rise from the dead after three days, but if you are to serve my Heavenly Father in Heaven for eternity, you will have to be crucified to yourselves and to the world, and to do that, you will have to believe in the One whom the Father has sent into the world, you will love Him, and you will keep the commandments. Hah.
- Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10:29-30)
- But Father George, Father George! “A hundred times […] houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” is not nothing! What are you talking about! Jesus’ offer is a prosperity Gospel! It’s all about this world, “now in this present age,” you know, besides “eternal life in the age to come”!
- First of all, these were given up, and then when more are added, it is only with persecutions. It’s the ol’ “My offer is this: nothing.” And, by all appearances, it then gets worse. Have you ever been in a persecution? Any mafioso earner might temporarily spare the life of a recalcitrant priest who speaks out against the mafia because the arm of his grandmother was just broken by a mafia “earner” for not paying her “pizzo” (protection payment), but that “earner” might then kill a member of that priest’s family as a warning if that priest insists, you know, his brother, or sister, or mother, members of his parish family… His rectory might be burned down, lands destroyed. When Jesus calls us from death to life, when He calls a man to be a priest, wretch that he is if without the grace of God, the offer is this: nothing. And less than nothing, that is, in this world. Even the little we think we have can be taken away at any moment, all those “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” by way of the promised persecution. Ah, but then there is eternal life, not only for the faithful priest, but also for Jesus’ Little Flock for whom that priest was available to get out of the way of the One High Priest so that He Himself might lead them to heaven with His goodness and kindness and Living Truth.
Perhaps there are some who are offended at this analogy. But I rush to be vindicated by the Venerable Fulton J Sheen, who made a similar analogy, even more ferocious. The good archbishop made an analogy between Jesus and – get this – atheistic materialistic dialectical Marxist Communism. Yep.
- What I recall from his conferences very many decades ago (distributed on cassette tapes by Keep the Faith), was that he described the demonic communist oppressors as totalitarian: they want to control your food and water, your medicine, your housing, you work, your possessions, your family, your friends, your conversations, your faith (none allowed), your very thoughts.
- Meanwhile, Sheen went on, Jesus wants everything from us as well, citing the famous oft-recited passage:
- “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
The difference, he said, was that the communists do this with terrible violence and fear mongering, always torture, always killing, always persecution.
Jesus, he said, does this with love, so that we love Him in His grace most willingly, even in the midst of the persecutions of this world, with that love of His that is stronger than our sin, stronger that our temptation, stronger than death, bringing us to heaven, with grace turning to glory. Amen. And that’s something!