The woes facing the U.S. economy, the mortgage crisis, this summer’s turmoil in the Canadian commercial paper market, the 5 year old war in Iraq. What do these have in common? Greed. The issues are very complex. But when you narrow down the issues it comes down to people wanting to get rich quickly, easily and at all cost. Our greed, if left unchecked, will always lead to disaster.
It’s the lesson of Charles Dicken’s Nicholas Nickleby. I recently attended the 6 1/2 hour (over two nights) production of Dicken’s play at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. The performance was spectacular. You can imagine that with a play of that length you get to know the characters. It’s a tale of about the effects of greed and the power of love and charity. It ends with Nicholas Nickleby finally finding happiness and yet still haunted by the desire to continue the battle in defense of the poor and the powerless. This happens as the cast breaks into the song: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen! By the end of the play I was in tears. It was Dickens as evangelist.
Once again I thought of the words of our Archbishop who yesterday challenged priests to focus on their ministry and preachers of the Good News, especially to those who are not sitting in our pews. Dickens is certainly a good example of how you can use the arts to spread the message of Jesus. As we enter into the Sacred Triduum, we should pray that the love and passion of Christ will propel us, not only to weep for him, but to channel that passion in service of the most neglected of his sisters and brothers.