Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 7-28-22

Reflection for the 17th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 7-28-22, Year C

Readings: Jer 18:1-6; Ps 146:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab; Gospel Mt 13:47-53

Theme: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly

In the 1966 spaghetti western movie starring Clint Eastwood, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” forces of good, bad, and ugly tussle with each other in the search for a lost stash of gold. Clint Eastwood plays Blondie the Good, Lee Van Cleef plays Angel Eyes the Bad, and Eli Wallach, the bumbling oaf who is a little of both, plays Tuco the Ugly.

The movie is full of greed and deception as each tries to outsmart the other in getting to the gold. Clint’s character, Blondie, the Good, displays elements of compassion, some trust, and pity for suffering soldiers and his enemies. Lee’s character, Angel Eyes, the Bad, is all evil, enjoying killing people with no remorse and greedy unto himself to no end. Eli’s character, Tuco, the Ugly, is a little of both, who needs direction to find the good path in life.

Spoiler alert, in the end, the Bad is killed because of his own greed while the Good gets the gold along with his conniving partner, the Ugly, who toyed with the idea of keeping all the gold to himself. The Good could have killed the Ugly and kept the gold for himself, but instead split the gold between himself and the Ugly by saving his life in the end, presumably changing the Ugly’s view on life and humanity through that kind act.

In today’s readings, we can see similarities between the characters of the movie and the final separation of the good and bad at the end of time where the good get the gold and the bad suffer eternal death. The ugly are those people who still need direction and are being shaped by God’s hand, over and over again. When God spins us on the potter’s wheel of spirituality, teaching, and love, sometimes it does not take, and He has to start over. Eventually, the finished product is either acceptable and becomes a part of His collection, or the clay is deemed bad and is tossed out to be trampled on.

It can be a reminder to us that we must be careful to keep God front and center in our lives, and to be still and listen for Him so He can shape us on His wheel. If we are closed off and ugly and do not take the time to get to know God and His will, we will remain ugly. If we are insolent, judging for ourselves what is right and wrong, and ignoring God in His entirety, we are bad and risk separation from God with our clay being thrown out, never to be seen again. But, if we are striving to improve ourselves every day, listening for God’s word in our lives, and remaining open to His molding hand, our ugliness can be changed into good.  If we remain good until the end, we will receive the gold which is heaven itself.

Live your life with love and compassion instead of hate and anger. Let yourself be open to changes prompted by God Himself. If you are struggling with God’s message, look to change your ugliness into good through prayer, faithful formation, and good works. Work to avoid those things that could change you into bad. If you can be open to God’s love and compassion and allow Him to mold you into a new person, you will secure yourself among the good with the angels and live an eternal life in heaven with the Holy Trinity.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL