My younger brother is finally reading the last Harry Potter book. As he’s been going through them, I’m reminded at how dearly I love this series. I ask which part he’s at about twenty times a day, and the second he’s finished a book, I run to start the movie. Last night we watched the Deathly Hallows, part 1.
As I rewatched this movie for the eight thousandth time, one scene stuck out to me in particular. It’s the animated scene when Hermione reads “The Tale of the Three Brothers.”
Ridiculously cool animation aside, this tale sticks out because it talks about revenge and humility and cheating death all within the confines of a tale for [wizard] children.
In the story, the brothers create a bridge across a treacherous river, thus avoiding death. But Death meets them on the bridge and gives a special gift to each of them. If Death ever offers you a gift, you should probably think twice before accepting.
The first brother asks for a powerful wand that can never lose a duel. He wants revenge on an old enemy. He kills this opponent, and, shortly after, is killed himself. Death is victorious.
“The second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death.” Although he expresses it differently, this brother also wants revenge. He wants to avenge his bride, whom Death stole from him. This brother receives a stone that, when turned in hand, can bring back the dead. He gets his wish. He brings back his bride, but her shade drives him insane, and he takes his own life. Death wins again.
Revenge consumed both of these brothers. They felt slighted. They felt owed. Thus they could not truly appreciate Death’s gifts. They tried to escape from him and humiliate him, but they achieved the opposite. Blinded, they stumbled through dark revenge and unknowingly walked right into Death’s cold embrace.
The youngest brother is different. He doesn’t care about humiliating Death; he realizes that Death does not have to give him anything. He is not owed anything. He wants only to live happily with his family. This allows the youngest to really appreciate his gift. For his gift, he asks to be invisible to Death, so Death surrenders a piece of his own cloak. The youngest brother doesn’t use his invisibility cloak recklessly. He uses it to raise his son in peace and live a fruitful life.
When he realizes his time has come, he willingly passes on his invisibility cloak and “greets Death as an old friend.”
It is so easy to fall into the clutches of revenge. We are hopelessly prideful, and we can’t stand being wronged. We get angered over petty arguments and our anger soon evolves into bitterness and revenge.
Even seeing the immense damage that a vengeful heart can do doesn’t always dissuade us.
But when we let revenge, or any other sin, consume us, we separate ourselves from Christ. If we die separated from him, Death really does win. However, if we rely on Christ to cover our sins like an invisibility cloak, we can greet Death as an old friend, knowing that he is not our end.