Javert’s Tragedy: Could It Be Ours? – by Eliezer Gonzalez
Dec 24, 2015 2948
Very recently, as a 50th birthday gift from my daughter Rebecca, she took me to see Les Misérables in Brisbane. What an amazing experience!
My daughter had previously said to me that she had never seen me cry, so in the darkness of the theatre, at the end of Fantine’s beautiful song “I Dreamed a Dream”, I took her finger and put it under my eye so she could never say that she had never known me to cry again. And let me tell you that the Well-Lubricated Eye Syndrome continued throughout the performance!
There were so many aspects of this musical that ring true so true to life for me! I was particularly struck by the character of Javert.
In a sense, Javert is the tragic hero of the work. Here is a man who remains true to principle throughout his life. This is admirable – Javert’s principles are not in themselves bad. He steadfastly refuses to permit the circumstances of his life to corrupt his morality. It is a thoroughly religious morality also, based on good principles.
That’s why it is striking how both Javert and Valjean look to the heavens for God to justify their actions in their lives. To an extent they even echo each other in the lyrics and music. Yet their lives and their destines are so completely different!
So what is Javert’s downfall? It is simply that He refuses the bend before grace.
Valjean acknowledges that in spite of his past, his soul belongs to God, and so he is able to acknowledge the sovereignty of grace above all. Javert will not.
In the end, in spite of the strength of his religious principles, Javert is left with his own pain and confusion. The reality of God’s ways were never what he thought they were. And choosing not to bend to grace, he takes the path of self-destruction. He chooses neither to allow himself to be forgiven, and in consequence, to forgive others.
Could it be precisely this that will keep so many seemingly “good” people from heaven. Could it be that Javert’s tragedy is an almost universal one?
Javert was so sure that he lived a good life – that he he knew right from wrong, and truth from error, law and sin! How much like him have I been!
Could it be that the tendency to sit in graceless judgment on others is what blinds us, not only to our own need, but to the greater realities of existence?
There is hope for a new world beyond the barricades of our own myopia.
Lord, keep my heart tender and humble, to understand your ways, and to bow low before the sovereignty of grace. So that in loving others, I too may see the face of God.
– Eliezer Gonzalez