Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Daredevil & Holy Week

My husband and I are making our way through the second season of Dardevil, and last night we watched the third episode, "New York's Finest." While this episode thrilled me on many levels (talk about some great moments from Matt's friends!), I was particularly gripped by a lengthy conversation that occurs between Dardevil and the main villain of this season, Punisher. Without dipping too far into spoiler territory, I can say that watching this episode during Holy Week seems especially appropriate. Furthermore, since it is Spy Wednesday, the day that we commemorate Judas bargaining with the high priest to betray Jesus, I think it's particularly timely to briefly reflect on this episode.

As Matt Murdock (Daredevil) speaks with Punisher (whom Matt discovers is named Frank), they discuss justice from the viewpoint of a vigilante. Matt does not kill people, and battles crime in the streets of Hell's Kitchen to help keep people safe, preserve their welfare, and seek justice. Frank, however, sees it as his mission to eradicate corruption by killing evildoers in order to keep them from harming others. 

Matt: You never think for one second, "S***, I just killed a human being." 
Frank: That's being pretty generous.
Matt: A human being who did a lot of stupid s***, maybe even evil, but had one small piece of goodness in him. Maybe just a scrap, Frank, but something. And then you come along, and that one tiny flicker of light gets snuffed out forever.
Frank: I think you're wrong...I think there's no good in the filth that I put down, that's what I think...Only I do the one thing that you can't. You hit 'em and they get back up, I hit 'em, and they stay down. It's permanent. I make sure that they don't make it out on the street again. I take pride in that! 
Frank doesn't want to let evil actions of others persist-that's good, right? However, as Frank identifies people with their sins and failings, he sees them as irredeemable. A person commits a crime, destroys another life, and boom-he or she has no goodness left, and it's Frank's job to take that person down. They are blackened completely by their sins. Their entire existence is shaped by that one action or set of actions. On the other hand, Matt believes that there is inherent goodness in each person, and that everyone has the ability to change. We even saw this in the first season of Dardevil, where one man-as he was dying-chose to help Matt instead of siding with Matt's enemies. No one is a lost cause, and there is no life so dark that light cannot come in. Instead of looking at all of the darkness and evil in the world, there is something else that we must consider. As Matt asks Frank, "What about hope?" 

This week, in a particular way, we contemplate the mystery and gift of redemption. We look at the Passion of Christ in the Scriptures, and we can think about His agony that was so intense, He sweat blood. We recall that that for hours without food or sleep, Christ was being tortured and harassed. Finally, after several more hours of extreme pain and blood loss, He was crucified, struggling to breathe until He died a few hours later. Christ did all of this...for who? The righteous people who were following every letter of the law? Let's look back at the reading from Monday's Evening Prayer earlier this week:
"For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."       ~Romans 5:6-8
Jesus, in His beautiful gift of Divine Mercy, offers Himself totally and completely for sinners. Think of St. Dismas, the man crucified next to Jesus on Calvary (Luke 23:32-43).  Think of Judas-the man who betrayed Christ. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, yet He still gave Himself and His love to this traitor. Christ continues to offer Himself wholly and freely to each person, no matter what he or she has done. In the Sacrament of Confession, He powerfully offers forgiveness of our sins. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, He gives us His Body and Blood to eat and drink. No matter what a person's past looks like, he or she always has hope. The redemption that Matt Murdock speaks of is continually being offered by God-just look at the lives of countless saints for further proof! We may stumble and fall repeatedly, but God is here, waiting to pick us up and help us strive for His will yet again. 
"My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify My mercy." (Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, #1488)
You may also be interested in: 

"Superheroes, Vigilantism, and Morality," by Matthew Bowman, over at The Catholic Geeks 

St. Faustina's Way of the Cross. This is my top favorite way of praying the Stations of the Cross as I meditate on Christ's Passion. It is beautiful and extremely epic. 


  1. I love it when there's tv shows and movies where you can actually see deeper spiritual themes. I'm definitely one who can appreciate the themes and the message of a show even if it portrays bad things that happen and highly imperfect people--I had friends who went to see the new Le Miserables when it came out, and walked out of the movie, horrified at the "filth" Hollywood produces. I went to see it and spent most of the movie bawling about the grace that the priest showed ValJean and the ultimate futility of a law-filled, grace-less life in Javert. So there's definitely a few different points of view when it comes to the same shows, especially shows that deal with heavier topics like he possibility of redemption after sin.
    You've certainly got me intrigued by this show...maybe we will have to get Netflix for a month for it.

    1. Rachel, that's really cool-I am very much the same way! Actually, pretty much the exact same thing happened with the new Les Miserables over here, too. It's that whole thing of various people all seeing something differently. I know someone that saw Les Mis and was quite disappointed with it, but I was sobbing at parts because of the beauty (I had also attended a presentation on human trafficking earlier that night, and kept seeing those women's stories in the character of Fantine, which then affected me even more). Have you read the book? Some parts are tough to get into (the book is quite long), but it is also incredibly powerful! If you do get a month of Netflix, it looks like they have season 1 of Daredevil, but I'm not sure if they have season 2 (according to a couple articles I read, there are slightly different Netflix offerings in Malaysia and the U.S.A.).