I’ve never made it all the way through Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Misérables. But I have seen the musical more times than I care to admit. I’m drawn to the intense light and darkness of its story and I find that it parallels the gospel in powerful ways. No character is as predictable or easy for me to despise as Inspector Javert, a lifelong officer of the law whose understanding of right and wrong is so narrow that he often misses the grace right in front of him. Javert spends years of his life relentlessly pursuing Jean Valjean—a man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his family and later broke parole to pursue a life defined by the grace a forgiving priest taught him. When the two come face to face and Valjean has the upper hand, Javert is stunned when Valjean extends that same grace and forgiveness to him. Devastated that everything he believed no longer makes sense, Javert jumps from a bridge, taking his own life. Tragically, he simply could not live with the possibility that he was wrong.
In Javert we glimpse the Pharisees who despise Jesus. But if we’re honest, we may also see a bit of ourselves. We miss so many chances to experience God’s grace when we can’t let go of our relentless desire to be right. Relationships could be mended. Forgiveness could be offered. The beauty and value of people we usually dismiss could become visible to us. We could love in ways that we never knew possible. Who knows? We might even notice that a paralyzed man just picked up his mat and walked out of the room.
What act of God’s gracious goodness are you missing because you’re so determined to be right?
Loving God, forgive us when our desire to be right keeps us from seeing the possibilities of your grace at work in the world. Open us to your beauty and goodness in new ways so that we might share the grace we discover. Amen.