Scorsese’s 1990 mobster film, “Goodfellas” revolves around the story of Henry Hill and several other associates as they navigate the waters of mafia drug trafficking. In one of those scenes, Henry talks about what it means to be what they call a “made man”. A made man was someone who was officially brought into the mafia brotherhood as a full member. A “made man” was someone who could do almost anything to anyone, as long as that “anyone” wasn’t another “made man”.
Last Sunday we confessed the first part of the explanation of the 1st Article of the Creed together:
What is the first article of the Creed?
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
What does this mean? (Part 1)
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason, and all my senses, and still takes care of them. . . This is most certainly true.
When we confess the first article of the Creed, we are confessing that we are “made men” and “made women”. We have a special kind of dignity that comes not from ourselves, but from the entity that “made” us – in this case, the 1st person of the Holy Trinity. Because we are made by Him, we have a dignity.
This dignity is easy to forget about sometimes because it is a dignity that we share with all of God’s created. Since everything around us – heaven and earth – is created by Him, everything has that dignity of being His created. We are made men and women, and our trees are made trees, our rocks are made rocks, our sun is a made sun. But it is easy to have contempt for the familiar, to forget that all that we can see around us, even our own bodies, have dignity.
It is especially easy when those things are subject to sin. Sin eats away at dignity. It corrodes the dignity of made men and made women. It erodes the dignity of nature. In sin, we lose track of the dignity that the world around us has because sin makes us lose track of the Father who created it all.
And so we needed to be called back, to be “remade men” and “remade women”, and that could only happen through the work of the Son. In His work on the Cross, He remade us to be the image, the icon, of the Father. He remade us to increase the sense of dignity of the things around us.
For that reason, I pick up trash on the sidewalk. For that reason, I try to smile at people when I pass them on the sidewalk. For that reason, I try to find something of the dignity of the Father in all that is around me. This is what it means for us to be Christians, to be remade in such a way that we begin to bring dignity back to the world. And one day, this whole world will be remade in the Resurrection and we will see what it means to be “made men” and “made women” completely again.