The Mask of Zorro and the Mask of Jesus.

Sword fight in the movie (click to enlarge or to source).

A little history about the mask of Zorro:
• In 1847 California, which had been settled by the Spanish, was ceded by Mexico to the US.
• Also, in 1848 gold was discovered in California and the gold rush began.
• And in 1919 a man called Johnston McCulley wrote a story called The Curse of Capistrano. This was set in Spanish colonial California, before 1847. A rakish individual called Zorro, which means Fox, was invented to confront corrupt society and the cruel Spanish military, and to fight the injustice laid on the oppressed.

All he had was a sword and a horse, but with the cunning of a fox. The son of a wealthy Spanish landowner, Zorro concealed his identity by wearing a mask.
• In 1920 a hit silent movie came out starring Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro.
• Then in 1998 a clever swashbuckling movie called Mask of Zorro came to the screen starring Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Anthony Hopkins.

Zorro aka Antonio Banderas (click to enlarge or to source).

• The original story of Zorro may have been based on an outlaw called Joachin Murrieta, who came from Mexico. He was prevented from working in the California goldfields by an unjust foreign miner’s tax. He was regarded as a hero by the poor and a murderer by the state. The governor put a ransom on Murrietta’s head, and after capture his head was preserved in a bottle of brandy. The bottle and head ended up in a saloon bar in San Francisco, but was destroyed by the earthquake of 2006.

• Another possibility is that The Curse was based on Juan Cortina (Red Robber of the Rio Grande), a wealthy Mexican rancher who shot the sheriff in Brownsville, Texas, for beating a Mexican. He assembled a motley group of Mexican brigands who fought the US army for years over Anglos illegally appropriating Tejanos (Mexican Texans) property. His first wife and their children were killed in a raid by Anglos. After he was defeated, Cortina turned to cattle rustling in revenge for continued unjust treatment of Tejanos by Anglos. Cortina was a popular leader among the poor, who viewed him as a hero confronting the abuse of power by Anglos.

Zorro became the prototype of future super-heroes. For example, Batman’s creator was obsessed as a kid with the Zorro story. Instead of a fox, he created a superman with the strategy of a bat. But he still wore a mask, and he still defended the oppressed.

The story of Zorro made me think of Jesus.There are definite similarities. Both were sons of a wealthy landowner (if we regard God as such). Also, both were high-energy young men bent on a mission. And both were rebels against society (the Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ case) because of the injustices imposed on the common people. Both were unafraid to confront the authorities. And both demonstrated compassion for the weak and the oppressed. We generally cheer for this kind of behavior.

Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (click to enlarge or to source).

But can we say that Jesus was rakish? The word means dashing, debonair, flamboyant. I suppose in a way Jesus was flamboyant in a spiritual sense. After all, he healed lepers whose flesh was falling off and he brought back to life some folks who were dead (Lazarus being the most famous). These things got him a tremendous following, and the crowds packed in close to hear what he had to say about God and man.

But did Jesus wear a mask? Not a physical mask, no. But he did tell the common people not to spread the news about the miracles he performed. In one perplexing statement about the purpose of his parables, Jesus admitted that ‘The secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given to you, but not to them’ (see quote below). And his disciples did seem to be slow to understand that he was the son of God.

Apparently a lot of his followers anticipated he would lead a force to kick the Romans out of Palestine. So in this sense he did conceal his spiritual identity, until in the end the stone was rolled back by angels and Jesus walked out of the tomb. Even after that it took some time for his followers to really understand what this was all about…..that Jesus had come to cut away the chains of sin.

So maybe the original prototype for Zorro was Jesus, not Joachin Murrieta or Juan Cortina. One takeaway is clear: we followers ought to be aware of injustices and have compassion for the poor and the disadvantaged (in our country and in the third world). And to do our bit to alleviate these situations. Please note: if we own just one car, we are richer than 97% of the world’s population!

The following song (just click on the title to hear it) is set against scenes of romance in the movie Mask of Zorro. The tune and lyrics and emotions are beautiful. Folks arrange to have it sung at their wedding. Do you think the sentiments of the song could also apply to the ideal of our love for God?

Basis for the song I Want to Spend my Lifetime Loving You (click to enlarge or to source).

I Want to Spend my Lifetime Loving You
By Marc Anthony and Tina Arena

Moon so bright night so fine
Keep your heart here with mine
Life’s a dream we are dreaming
Race the moon catch the wind
Ride the night to the end
Seize the day stand up for the light

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do

Heroes rise heroes fall
Rise again, win it all
In your heart, can’t you feel the glory
Through our joy, through our pain
We can move worlds again
Take my hand, dance with me

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do

I will want nothing else to see me through
If I can spend my lifetime loving you
Though we know we will never come again
Where there is love, life begins
Over and over again
Save the night, save the day
Save the love, come what may
Love is worth everything we pay

I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do
I want to spend my lifetime loving you
If that is all in life I ever do
I will want nothing else to see me through
If I can spend my lifetime loving you

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew chapter 14).

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew chapter 23).

The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them’. (Matthew chapter 13).

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