Can a boy's longing for his father work miracles?
One of the things I find so appealing about Lent is that we are not only called to contemplation, but also to action. Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are all equally important ways of uniting ourselves to Christ and offering our lives to Him. Through fasting and sacrifice, my prayer life naturally deepens, my faith increases.
Little Boy, a new major motion picture, produced by Metanoia Films (the same company that released Bella), depicts this phenomenon in a poignant way. Little Boy tells the story of a young boy in small town America during The Second World War. When his father goes overseas to fight, "Little Boy" (so called because he is picked on for his size), desperately tries to find ways to bring his father home safely.
What can Little Boy do to bring about this thing he wants so badly? He thinks if he only had the power of the famous magician he admires, then he could bring his father home. Or, maybe if he just had faith that moves mountains, like he heard about in Church, then God would grant his fervent prayer. But, of course, his father’s return isn’t as simple as a magic trick. Little Boy, like the rest of us, has to learn the hard way how to trust that God’s Will will be done.
In scenes that I couldn’t help but enjoy, the local parish priest tells Little Boy about an "ancient list" that Little Boy should carry out if he wants his faith to grow so that it can move mountains. The list is the corporal works of mercy. Little Boy thinks that as he checks each item off his list, he will get closer to bringing his father home. Feed the hungry: check. Visit the imprisoned: check.
Of course, you and I know that the world doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t barter with us. He doesn’t say: you give X up for Lent and I’ll heal your sick relative. Or, if you fast well enough then I’ll solve your financial problems.
What does happen is that God listens to our prayers. And, He blesses us in ways we might not expect. One of these blessings is the way that completing corporal acts of mercy or fasting changes our hearts. This certainly happens to Little Boy. At first, he befriends a lonely Japanese man (discriminated against due to Japan’s role in the war), because he can check some corporal acts of mercy off his list. By the end, Little Boy is no longer thinking about his list, he genuinely cares about his new friend.
I won’t tell you whether Little Boy’s father comes home or not. What I will tell you is that completing this "ancient list" is fruitful, though not entirely in the way that Little Boy expects. What a poignant example of how we should approach our own Lenten sacrifices and devotions: with determination, but also openness to how Christ will change our hearts.
To find out more about Little Boy, visit http://littleboymovie.com/.
Caitlin Bootsmais the editor of Human Life International’s Truth and Charity Forum (truthandcharityforum.com) as well as the Communications Director for Fuzati, Inc., a Catholic marketing company. This article was originally published on Catholic.org and is reprinted here with permission from the author.