Through many people’s persuasions, I finally got into The Mandalorian series on Disney+ a few years ago. Even though I am not personally a fan of the Star Wars series because I feel like it has been hijacked and churned into a money-making franchise. Overall, the storyline of that whole franchise has become repetitive and boring, toward the point I was losing interest while watching the different movies and spin-offs. Nevertheless, I thought that The Mandalorian series presents some fresh and different perspectives on the whole ecosystem and storyline. What captivated me first and foremost was the story of conversion, where a bounty hunter encounters a change of heart, hence risking his life to become a protector.
Perhaps you might know this fact already, but according to the story, the Mandalorians are a race of honorable and skilled warriors. They are respected across the galaxies. Nonetheless, the main character of this story is not simply a warrior in the typical sense. In order to survive and make a living, he sells himself as a bounty hunter. As a matter of fact, he is very successful and effective at his job, earning him a very well-known reputation within his own bounty hunters’ guild. That all changed… when he is given a very high-valued bounty! The one he is sent to hunt changes his life. This seems to be a heartless bounty hunter is somehow moved by what seems to be a baby or younger version of Yoda.
When he makes the choice, his whole life turns upside down. The hunter is now hunted. He faces many dangers, hardships, and trials, as well as being rejected by his own colleagues and friends, because of this child. Even though his motivation and reasoning are unclear at first, he begins to connect with the child and sees this young one as one to be protected. Grogu, as we later find out his name, is the same specie as Yoda. He underwent many trials and hardships in his own life. Those events caused the youngling distrusts his ability and power. Fear and anger are present and, at times, control him. Nevertheless, this growing friendship, the one that grows between the two most unlikely people, helps affirm his ability to trust and open himself up for something wonderful.
As Christians, we find a similar story, too. The magi risked many dangers and unknowns in order to seek a king who they thought revealed himself through a star. Before the days of modern conveniences like the interstate highway system, convenience stores, gas stations, roadside motels, or lodgings, they set out on a journey full of dangers and uncertainties. Even today, one feels very lost in the Middle East, outside of the typical modern city settings and in the unknown deserts, and yet they risked what they had to set out on a journey to find this king. Not only did they have to face the numerous possibilities of danger, but also pressured by King Herod to reveal the exact location of the Child King so he can take out his potential usurper.
We know from biblical and actual histories that the pitiful ruler did set out to kill young children so the young ones will not compete against him or can potentially take his power away. The pressure must be immense and tense for the magi to feel uncomfortable and for them to take heed of the angel’s instructions to set out another way back home. Hence, we see in this particular episode of two types of kingly power: one based on true and genuine love while the other selfishly and pitifully hold on to power and control. The Lord did not have to pretend or hold on to earthly matters like Herod because He did personally choose to give Himself totally and completely to be with His subject. He desired and wanted to be with His people and rules them with truth, care, compassion, and love. We see in Herod a very typical set of earthly values that are endearing to earthly rulers and controlling people.
The people who are scared of letting go of themselves are always held back by their own fears of losing control and power. Those who are small-minded, self-centered, and worried about not having things their ways oftentimes have no problem trying to hurt others in order to get what they want at all costs. They can never truly love others because they can only love and hate themselves, especially anyone who is deemed to stand in their way to get whatever they do not have or want at the moment. These people only serve their egos and their fears of losing their own false self-made importance. People who only care about themselves and their goods will always end up being slaves of their own desires, wants, and needs but are never happy or content with what they have or the blessings that God has always bestowed upon them. Self-centered people can never truly love or believe because they never allow themselves to be vulnerable, transparent, honest, humble, and genuine to others and to the Almighty. They are simply scared and are imprisoned by their own pitiful wants and needs of vanities and nothingness.
Perhaps we think that we not not “those” types of people. However, too many times, too many of us only seek God and turn to faith at our very own convenience, when we need something, or when everything else seems to fail. Too many people only seek faith and want to be what they think He needs to be for them, hence ending up idolizing or creating a different version of who He truly is — existing only to serve their needs. Too many of us are still stuck behind our ivory towers of control and powers, our own little built-up kingdom and comfort zone, and we seldomly want to truly go out of our way to truly seek, see, find, and worship God with all of our heart, mind, and soul. Reality often shows that too many people only see or practice their faith on an intellectual, ideological, or nominal level, but they quickly abandon, blame, lose hope, or give up when they do not get their way or when things are out of control. Perhaps the truth can be said that many people might have a mile-long possession of information but only a shallow or limited depth and substance that ground them in times of trials, hardships, crises, and challenges.
Therefore, I would like to propose four questions to ponder and reflect upon:
- Are we willing to let go of whatever we have built up or want for ourselves to truly seek, love, and give ourselves to God?
- Are we stuck behind our own castles and towers, asking God to stoop down to serve and meet our needs, or are we willing to be vulnerable, transparent, humble, and genuine in loving and giving our everything to Him?
- Are we willing to be our own little dictators of self-centered demands, expectations, and wants, shouting, pouting, hurting, or blaming others when we do not get our way or are we humble enough to learn from the Child King who abandoned and emptied Himself to be with us?
- Are we willing to exchange everything to hold on to God and to protect this precious, personal, and intimate friendship with Him or are we willing to let go of Him and manipulate everyone or everything in our lives to get what we want?
These are hard questions to answer! However, they are personal questions that require us to seek, discover, fall in love, and be willing to risk everything to protect this precious, eternal, and everlasting relationship with the One who loves us so much that He will do everything to be with us. I pray, we, too, are willing to do everything to love Him with everything that we have.
— (The picture of the character “Grogu” is taken from The Mandalorian television series by Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios) —