Tony Rossi, Director of Communications
Mercy Rises in “Star Wars”
April 19, 2020
If you’re looking for a movie that ties into Divine Mercy Sunday, consider “Star Wars:
The Rise of Skywalker,” now on home video. When I saw it in the theater, I didn’t expect a
story in which mercy was an overriding theme, but that’s exactly what I got.
As the film begins, it’s revealed that the evil Emperor Palpatine is somehow alive and that the series’ Jedi heroine, Rey, is his granddaughter. Despite the darkness in her bloodline, Rey remains committed to being a hero – and her choices often involve mercy. At one point, a large, angry snakelike creature is poised to attack Rey and her friends. Instead of trying to kill it, Rey senses that the creature is angry because it’s wounded and in severe pain. Though filled with fear, she slowly moves towards it, places her hands on its wound, and uses her Force powers to heal it. The creature then slithers away peacefully. In an instance when it would have been the natural reaction to fight, Rey chooses mercy over fear and anger – and it saves the day.
Mercy again comes into play when Rey is engaged in a light saber duel with the villain Kylo Ren, who has chosen to follow the Dark Side of the Force in pursuit of power. Kylo was formerly Ben Solo, the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, and Rey senses that there is still something redeemable inside him, despite the fact that he killed his own father, along with many others. Just as Kylo defeats Rey in battle, his mother Leia distracts him through the Force from afar with a final message of love, reminding him of the good person he used to be.
While he’s distracted, Rey mortally wounds Kylo. Yet as she holds him while he is dying, she sheds a tear for the person that Ben was and uses her Force powers to heal him. Between Leia’s act of love and Rey’s act of mercy, Kylo finally rejects the dark path he had chosen. Rey not only saves his body, she saves his soul.
But Kylo still has to face the way he murdered his own father. Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo to talk with his son one final time. The movie posits that he is simply a memory from Kylo’s brain, but he could easily be something more. Kylo admits his sin to Han – and Han forgives him, noting that Kylo Ren is dead, but Ben Solo has returned to life. The lost sheep, in a sense, has returned to the fold because the shepherds didn’t give up on him.
Ben soon joins Rey as she faces off against Palpatine. Though their battle involves flashy special effects, at its heart it is a spiritual battle between saints and demons. When Rey is seemingly defeated, she prays, “Be with me,” to the deceased Jedi from the past. Like a communion of saints, they give her the power she needs to take down her grandfather.
Rey, however, has expended so much energy that she is quickly dying. It is Ben who now uses the Force to heal her and return her to life. In so doing, he dies himself, a noble death in a state of redeemed grace. The mercy that Rey modeled has now been returned to her. It’s a profound spiritual lesson that should leave audiences thinking about more than the fun action sequences that were part of the “Star Wars” journey.
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