I’ve just started watching the BBC Drama called “Broken” – a friend thought I’d like it. It is about a Catholic priest trying to care for his flock – emphasis on “trying”! Life in Father Michael’s parish is very tough for many of his parishioners and he himself carries “ghosts” from the past and family challenges in the present.
The series is refreshing because it rings true. However much we might like happy families, happy endings and Disney storylines – life so often is just not like that – even in good old Madeley. Many of us know that we are “the lucky ones” – or to put it in religious language – we are blessed. But all around us, people are grappling with complicated, messy, stressful lives and mostly doing an amazing job of surviving.
In the first episode, a young mum’s life is going belly up. She is trying her best to bring up her family and doing everything she can but, every time she thinks she’s coping, something else happens. Father Michael does his best to be supportive and understanding but he too finds that life is loaded with complications and contradictions – especially in his own family.
In contrast to many TV clergy dramas and sitcoms – there is an honesty and an authenticity that makes this worth watching. Father Michael is not depicted as a Saint or a paragon of virtue but as someone who genuinely longs to help and to point people to Jesus’ love, compassion and understanding.
I have been struck recently about the importance of “noticing” people and situations and hopefully not passing by on the other side of the street. Our family members and neighbours need our understanding, a slowness to judge and a readiness to help. All of which isn’t easy and won’t always be welcome but compassion is fundamental in God’s work of supporting broken lives.