On a recent girl’s night out with my family, we were thrilled to see the new, live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. Towards the end of the movie, we watched as the handsome, charming Gaston riled the villagers into a mob to attack the ugly, scary beast in the castle. Observing the scene, one of the characters remarks, “Who is the beast?”
Who is the beast? Shortly after getting married, Craig and I volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter. One of our jobs included helping people find the right pet. One afternoon, I was assigned to a large man covered in tattoos. I was a little nervous, but as we walked through the shelter I discovered the tough looking man was gentle and kind. I would have let him take home all the animals in the shelter. Another day, a beautiful, posh woman arrived. She quickly informed me she wanted a cat to match her sofa so the cat hairs did not show. I politely suggested another shelter. These incidents reminded me to look beyond appearances to see the true beauty of people.
Who is the beast? Often, it is us. We show anger, jealousy, gluttony and bitterness. It is even worse when we struggle with the ugliness others cannot always see: self-loathing, fear, doubt, unworthiness. We forget the words of Jesus to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22.39).
Who is the beast? All of us. However, like the ugly beast of the movie, there is an opportunity to be transformed by love. When we accept the love of Christ, we are transformed into something beautiful. Did the beast-turned-prince still struggle with anger? Probably, but I believe he continued to change and grow. We too struggle with our beasts, but with the love of Christ present in our lives, we have the opportunity to continue growing and changing.
Who is the beast? We are.
Who is the beauty? All of us!