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Among my absolute favorite films is the Indiana Jones saga staring Harrison Ford. If you have not seen the films, they are the story of Indiana Jones, a famed archeologist who goes on wild adventures in search of ancient lost artifacts, including the Ark of the Covenant in the first film and the Sankara Stones in India in the second film. There is a part in the third film, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” that I especially enjoy. The setting is WWII era and after a long journey of fighting Nazi soldiers who are looking for the Holy Grail, the cup with which Jesus instituted the sacrament of communion, Indiana Jones and his father finally arrive at what is actually the ancient city of Petra, where they are to discover the Holy Grail. Through a series of events, Indiana Jones character is faced with several challenges which must be overcome in order to discover the Holy Grail.

All that he has is his knowledge of ancient history and a few clues as to how to make it through these challenges and indeed, survive them. In the first challenge the clue is that “only the penitent man shall pass.” As Indiana Jones slowly walks up a flight of steps leading into an ancient stone hallway, he sees the setting littered with the decapitated skeletons of those who had tried before him to make it through this first challenge and failed, losing their life in the process. As Indiana Jones makes his way toward the place of the challenge he and his father, who has remained behind, repeat the clue over and over, trying to figure it out. “Only the penitent man shall pass… only the penitent man shall pass.” Just before Indiana Jones is about the make it to the point where all of those who came before him failed and lost their life, his father realizes that the penitent man lives in an attitude of prayer, the penitent man is on his knees. He yells to his son to kneel and just then whirling blades pass over the top of his head! Surely, if he had not gone to his knees he would have perished liked all of the others before him.

While you and I are not treasure hunters or Hollywood actors, we, like Indiana Jones are faced with many challenges in this life where the answer to the clues are to live under the conviction, the understanding that only the penitent man shall pass; because it is only the humble in heart, those who are poor in spirit rather than proud of heart who pass the ultimate test of this life; that of knowing God and being known by Him.

Where pride destroys us, humility leads us to our knees in an attitude of penitent petition to God to forgive us our sins, to restore unto us the joy of our salvation, and to the seal us with the presence of His very spirit inside of us.

Penitence; a pathway to forgiveness; the Pilgrim’s pathway to freedom!

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