The latest installment of the Bourne movie franchise, The Bourne Legacy, opens today in theaters. Out of the three previous movies (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum), I particularly like the second because it deftly illustrates the human need for forgiveness.
The movie opens with Jason Bourne having a recurring dream. In this dream, he sees snippets of one of his past “jobs,” but, suffering from amnesia, he is unable to put all of the pieces together. A hit man shows up to kill Jason, and, while escaping with his girlfriend, he tells her that he has no choice but to flee. Her response is quite simple; she looks at him and says, “Yes, you do”—meaning that Jason, like the rest of us, does have the capacity to make a choice. He can choose good or evil, right or wrong, virtue or vice. This is the moment that Jason realizes that he is not simply a weapon in the arsenal of some clandestine government agency. He is a human being.
Jason’s search for answers about his past takes him to the scene of his first “job”—the hotel room where he murdered a Russian politician and his wife. After uncovering the details and circumstances of this incident, he feels intense guilt about what he has done, and his mission now becomes a mission of seeking forgiveness. He goes to extreme lengths to elude his assassins and the police. At one point, he is shot in the shoulder. Finally, he reaches the place where he can appropriately confess what he has done. He finds the daughter of the Russian couple, and, sitting in her dining room, he tells her the truth about the death of her parents. As he walks away, he turns to her and says, “I’m sorry,” then exits her apartment and her life.
The whole movie is a compelling depiction of a typical path toward forgiveness. First, there is guilt about a past offense—the desire to correct what we have done. This presupposes that we have the ability to choose, that we are rational creatures and, therefore, responsible. Sometimes, by our own fault, we do not make the right choice. What do we do about it? We go in search of forgiveness, just as Jason Bourne did. He went to great lengths to express his remorse for the evil he had committed, and, even then, he left without knowing whether he was forgiven.
This is often the case with human forgiveness—we sometimes never know whether we have been forgiven by those whom we have wronged—but this is not the case with God. God loves us so much that he wishes to eliminate this anxiety, and he does so by giving us the Sacrament of Confession. Knowing our fallen state, he gave us a ready and sure means of receiving his mercy and forgiveness. Of course, all of the sacraments work together to restore and redeem fallen humanity, but this sacrament is specifically meant to remit our sins and to restore us to a life of grace and love—a participation in the life of the Trinity.
Jason Bourne shows us the extraordinary measures one should take in seeking human forgiveness. It is Jesus Christ on the cross who reveals to us the extreme measures God has taken to bring about divine forgiveness. The passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplish something that Jason Bourne could never do—redeeming and restoring those who were once dead in their sins.
Image: Still from The Bourne Identity