Love in Deed

Posted on April 23, 2024 by Published by

It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite Christmas movies. It only occurred to me recently, though, that this film, for all its yuletide aesthetic, is actually more of an Easter story.

I love this movie because it’s a very Catholic film — not overtly, although we do see the main character, George Bailey, going to Mass. No, it’s the themes that are Catholic, not the set dressing. It’s a story about the choices we make — to love, or not to love? To sacrifice, or not to sacrifice? To put oneself first, or to put oneself last? It’s a story about what the consequences of those choices look like here in the world, and what they look like in heaven.

In the film, we meet a young George Bailey who dreams of growing up to do amazing, impressive things. Over the years, he makes a choice here and he makes a choice there … and when all is said and done, the adult George Bailey is a tired, overworked husband and father with no worldly attributes that anyone would envy.

But he’s a man who has loved in deed, not just in word, and who has reaped the spiritual rewards of those choices.

The season of Easter is about rejoicing in true redemption, not in worldly triumph. The Word of God is not a bedtime story. It’s a pruning shear. To hear it is to be changed, to be shaped. To live it is to lose some things, so that you might bloom in unexpected ways. To welcome the Word is to be willing to look different, to feel different.

Anyone can say, “I love you, I accept you, I want to help you.” But what does it actually look like, to love in deed and not just in word? It looks like giving something up: free time, wealth, comfort, worldly approval. It looks, to the casual observer, like pain.

To someone who has no concept of how plants grow and thrive, a gardener’s pruning shears look like an executioner’s sword. To someone who has no concept of how souls grow and thrive, a tomb barred by a stone looks like the end of a story, when in fact it’s just the beginning.

“Children, let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” — 1 John 3:18

Article contributed by Colleen Jurkiewicz Dorman


Readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter: Lectionary 53



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