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Les Miserables, Cosette and Divine Grace

By:Karem Barratt
Date: Sat,23 Mar 2013
Submitter:Karem Barratt

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One of the concepts I had some problems grasping until recently, was that of Divine Grace. Defined somewhere along the lines of “unmerited divine assistance or blessing given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification,” it seemed to be paired at times with the love Spirit has for us, mere, flowed mortals.

To be honest, I never did like that definition. May be it was my ego talking, but I wanted to believe that there was something worthy about me that would inspire affection to the Divine. The more I thought about, the more I had the sense that there was an element missing in that idea of grace. Then, as I was watching the film version of Les Miserables, the penny finally dropped, with a beautiful, crystal-like sound.

In the film, the character of Cosette seems to be the constant recipient of Victor Hugo’s version of Divine Grace. She herself does not seem to be or do anything out of the ordinary. Yet for her, Fantine, her mother, sacrifices her life; a stranger goes out of his way to save her from poverty and abuse; a young freedom fighter almost gives up a revolution; and a father walks purposely into a battle field. I’m not sure how much does the Cosette from the musical reflects the character from the book, but at first sight, Cosette’s only claim to so much care and affection is the fact that she is there: she breathes, she is alive, she is. It’s her humanity and all the potential in her that makes her worthy of other people’s efforts. So in that sense, she seems to be a perfect example for Divine Grace.

As I looked into the story more carefully, though, I realized something else. Just by been there, Cosette gives as much as she receives to those who love her. In Cosette, Fantine finds the inner strength to fight against the terrible circumstances of her life. In Cosette, Jean Valjean finds a joy and inspiration unknown to him until he meets her. In Cosette, the idealist Marius finds humility and true courage, for is not so easy to be part of a revolution when you have someone to lose. Just by her mere existence, Cosette offers the world bravery, fortitude, happiness, hope and love.

This relationship between Cosette and the other characters got me thinking about our relationship with the Divine. It’s probably true that Spirit bestows grace upon us just because that is its desire and not for anything we have done. But I think that, in our way, we also bestow grace upon Deity. I think that with our lives, our potential and our fragility, we give the Devine, that being described as Unconditional Love, someone to love unconditionally.

Creation, the universe, life itself –us included- are the Spirit’s Cosette and in us it finds expression for its beauty, tenderness, patience, understanding, strength, acceptance, hope and joy. We are the beloveds of Love. We are the gift Love has given to itself, for, what good is Love without no one to love? More than an “unmerited blessing,” I think Divine Grace is our true reality; our birthright, just as a mother’s milk is a baby’s birthright.

Once you see yourself as the love of Love and realize that Love is all around you, within and without, you cannot help but to feel love; spread love; see love; and be the love for all there is. Under this idea of Divine Grace, is easy to understand the great truth expressed in Jean Valjean’s last words: to love another person is to see the face of God. And whoever sees the face Spirit, walks and lives in eternal grace.

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