I recently watched the movie The Equalizer in spite of my friend's comment on it being bloody, gruesome, and violent. I am the girl who will pick a great action drama movie over a romantic comedy ANY DAY. I tend to not like blood and guts (even though I was an EMT...ironic) but I figured it couldn't be too bad. I was also thinking that I need to be up-to-date on what my students are watching since they always ask me if I know about pop culture singers, actors, movies, etc. (I usually don't have a clue about these types of things. I just tell them I'm a 26 year old vieja (old lady) and then they shake their cute little heads in agreement). I don't support them watching these types of movies, but it happens and I have to be prepared to know whats going on in their minds. So, I rented it.
Denzel Washington is the main character in the story. He is a retired bad guy killer who is trying to start a new life. His peaceful kill-free retirement is interrupted when a young prostitute he cares for is beaten brutally by her pimp. He decides to get involved. First Denzel's character offers the pimp money to buy his friend out of the business, but he arrogantly refuses and sends Denzel on his way. Big mistake Mr. Russian. Big. Denzel decides to kill the ringleader of this sex-slave business and all his compadres (friends).
Now, some ladies might say that what he did was heroic and good. That they wish they had a man to protect them and fight for them like Denzel's character. His intentions were good, right? He wanted to help a defenseless young girl who was being sold for her body against her will.
This movie brings to mind what Thomas Aquinas says about mercy; “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution; [and] justice without mercy is cruelty.” We all have a desire for justice but it must be tempered by mercy. Denzel's character had good intentions, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. He must learn to use reason and mercy in his pursuit of justice.
King David writes in the Psalms, “He [The Lord] hath prepared his throne in judgment: And he shall judge the world in equity, he shall judge the people in justice (Ps. 9: 8-10). And also, “The Lord is just, and hath loved justice” (Psalm 10:8). Justice is good and necessary so that society doesn't end up in chaos. Criminals need to be punished for the wrongs they've committed. The message of this movie is one more of vengeance than justice. In Psalm 84:11 we read, “Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.” Justice must not violate mercy. The two virtues must balance out and respect each other.
When we look at the Divine Mercy that Saint Faustina spoke of it is completely opposite from the movie The Equalizer. Divine Mercy reminds us that justice is at the service of Love. In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord tell us, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. In Isaiah 54:10 the Lord tells us, though “the mountains may depart...my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed." Whenever we seek justice we must remember to let love lead us in our decisions. When it comes down to it, if it wasn't for God's passionate love for us we would be doomed to live an eternity without him. He has mercy on us everyday. He asks us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. My challenge for you today is this: The next time someone crosses you, hurts you, or irritates you remember the mercy you've been shown by Jesus and pay it forward.
God bless you in your pursuit of mercy.