For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love. (Psalm 59:16-17)
Read: Isaiah 19:1 – 21:17, Galatians 2:1-16, Psalm 59:1-17, Proverbs 23:13-14
Relate: I recently finished watching Netflix’s “Defenders” and thinking on how far it has fallen from the first in this series of shows that they have done. Because of the grittiness of that first show, I would say that the Netflix version of Daredevil is not for the faint of heart. The realism of some of the violence, the way injuries sustained carry over, slowly healing, from one episode to the next makes the violence seem much more real than in most other Superhero type shows. One thing that is also much more real is the way the show very openly deals with issues of faith. Matt Murdock doesn’t just carry the “Irish Catholic” trope, his Catholicism informs his actions and motivations in a way I can’t remember seeing from Hollywood in a long time (if ever).
When I was thinking of the verse I am using today from Psalm 59, the word sanctuary immediately came to mind. My thoughts first went to the Hunchback of Notre Dame and then from there to the (horrible) Ben Affleck version of Daredevil. As I started to write, my mind continued to drift to this more recent, and far better, version of the Marvel character and I came back to one conversation Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer/superhero had with his priest.
Murdock: Do you believe in the devil, Father?
Lantom: You mean… as a concept?
Murdock: No. Do you believe he exists, in the world, among us?
Lantom: Do you want the short answer or the long one?
Murdock: Just the truth.
Lantom then goes on to discuss how there was a time when he actually didn’t. When he was in seminary and during his earlier years in the ministry he believed the devil was a scare tactic used to drive people to the truth. He then goes on to describe his experiences in Rwanda during that genocide and how that horror changed his understanding of evil in the world and the reality of the devil. He doesn’t deny or cover up his former doubts. He doesn’t shy away from the truth. This spiritual leader is genuinely open and vulnerable before a man who is obviously going through some serious internal conflicts of his own. His openness allows the one who is supposed to be “confessing” to him to open up in turn. His words and vulnerability are the “sanctuary” that the daredevil so clearly needs.
React: Obviously, these are just fictional characters in a fantasy world, but even still it is an excellent model for us. Instead of giving an orthodox answer to a theological question, the priest shared his own story. He told of his own journey from doubt to truth without trying to gloss over the messy parts. How often do I have the moral courage to do this? When somebody is struggling, how willing am I to wade into that struggle and walk through it with them? How many times have I failed instead by remaining on a moral platform, hiding behind a mask of spirituality, while I directed them on what they “need to do” or “should believe”?
Is my open compassion a sanctuary for the hurting? Does my love and caring create a refuge for the lost? Do my words and actions create a shelter for those in distress? According to the Psalmist, the refuge of God is His unfailing love. Are we living out a visible manifestation of His love? Am I? Can I be His sanctuary?
Help me to be a sanctuary to the world You so deeply love. I am Your church. I am an ambassador, a representative, of Your love in this world. Help me to love. Give me the courage to be open and vulnerable to those I might speak with that they might have the freedom to be open and vulnerable in return. Don’t let me hide behind a mask of religiousness. Help me to avoid that stained glass masquerade. Instead let Your love and Your compassion spill out of me with every step that I take in following You.
12 thoughts on “Sanctuary”
I just watched that episode last night, and I was struck by the conversation as well. I always brace myself when a priest shows up on the screen in any show or movie, since too often they are made the butt of jokes or held up as squishy “I’m ok if you’re ok, just follow your heart” type pseudo-sages. With every instance of a priest in the show, I have more confidence. Even in the Ben Affleck version, there is a struggle within Matt, the pull to let his rage run his life and the pull to temper anger with mercy. Obviously, he does let his rage get the better of him when he beats people with in an inch of their life, or when he tortures someone (note that he’s always hesitant to bring that up in his confessions). I should also note that I haven’t finished the show. But the feeling you get from watching the show is one of hope for Matt and satisfaction with the priest.
In that case, I’m glad I didn’t include any real spoilers. 😉
Dear Beejai -thank you for your deeply thought provoking words here – they are so timely for me this morning, as this week my church kicks off our new season of small groups. Your words here are the perfect words for me to dwell upon when praying/reflecting on developing community with all these people, and how to tender my heart towards relationship with each of them. Thank you so much ❤
Great post! I love how you can take the example of Daredevil (I’m a big comics fan) and use it to illustrate a larger concept. Sanctuary is often discussed in Christian circles as something we seek, not something we provide to others. Very thought provoking for me today. Thank you.
It reminds of the song, “O Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.” Now, while the song may be talking about a dwelling place for Christ, it can also be a place where people take refuge and see Christ in us.
Great post. Thank you for the insights!
I was considering using that song at the end.
Love the post even though I don’t follow Daredevil. I totally get where you’re coming from to with the sanctuary.
When we completely accept, in Christian love, our fellow brothers and sisters – regardless of race, creed, economic status, flaws etc., that acceptance means we take them into our homes, we take them into our hearts, we care for their needs and well being — before our own. Selfless acts of love and kindness because “our” hearts are breaking over their need. Love them like Jesus, living in the Spirit.
I’ve been thinking recently about charity and how, as a SAHM I can contribute. All my money is basically from my husband and I don’t feel as connected to it as when I worked in my career and earned my own. It’s seems a second hand way of giving and, despite his generosity.
The priest here than gives his time and that’s what I’ve started to think myself so thank you for this post. I’m going to start praying to God to show me how he wants to give sanctuary.
I’m a newbie and now I’ve found a new source of inspiration in your blog 😀.
The world needs so much more than our money. It needs our gifts and talents! He can multiply money, but there’s only one YOU, Andrea. And God’s got plans for you! ;D
Beejai- You hit on something close to my heart… I tend to be a perfectionist, but my flaws are so incredibly obvious to others, that it seems to be easy for others to relate to me in my imperfections. I hope to continue being a sanctuary for others, in my home, in my arms, and in my heart. The LORD truly is my Sanctuary. I do NOT know how anyone can stand to live for more than a moment in time without HIM. Thank you for this post, it reminds me of those things in which I need to remain steadfast. May the LORD bless you always!
“When somebody is struggling, how willing am I to wade into that struggle and walk through it with them?” I’m going to be thinking about that one sentence ALL WEEK.
I’m not a comic buff, but I couldn’t get enough of this show! You had men and women trying to become gods posited against very human men and women in the service of God who lived with the shame and consequences of their best efforts that were far from the best. And the core of their lives, after all was said and done and the final credits rolled, there was forgiveness and grace. And a story. The Bible is full of stories like the priest and Matt’s mother, the nun. If we want the world to know God’s love and grace, we have only to tell them our story because our story IS God’s story.