Monday, 7 September 2009


Some time ago I saw the popular film and stage show 'Chicago.' As well as having some great tunes it's a wonderful satire of 1920's showbiz, with the glamorisation of criminals and a celebrity lawyer.

Amidst the exotic characters there's an exception. Since no one notices him he feels he's become a non-person. He sings a poignant song about his being 'Mr. Cellophane.' As far as people are concerned he's invisible. He sings, 'You look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I'm there.' He thinks he's 'invisible, inconsequential.' He has no power or influence. Any views he may have are dismissed as worthless. He's thought to be of no importance. No one has any time for him. He's completely ignored.

Sadly, there are far too many 'cellophane' people in the world today. They include those who live on the fringe of society, the marginalised, the outcasts. There's the refugee, the asylum seeker, the beggar on the street. At the same time we glorify pop and sports stars. The media turns notorious criminals and their lawyers into celebrities.

All this hype is in sharp contrast to the way Jesus treated people. He mixed with sinners, whom the self-righteous shunned. Instead of writing them off as worthless he led them to find God's mercy. He died between two criminals and promised to welcome the repentant thief into his kingdom. He enabled those who had become marginalised -lepers, the possessed and sinners -to take a full part in the life of the community.

He alone noticed the poor widow putting all of the little she possessed into the temple collection box. When those who were filled with a sense of their own importance tried to prevent children and the blind beggar, Bartemaeus, from bothering Jesus he welcomed these social rejects. Jesus even said we must become like these seemingly unimportant people if we were to enter the kingdom of heaven. God certainly is not impressed by celebrities and status seekers.

Jesus identified with the under privileged, the needy and the outcast and told us that as we welcome them we welcome him and the one who sent him. He knows and calls even the least of us by name. God even knows every sparrow that falls, and we are worth more than many sparrows. As far as God is concerned none of us loses his or her identity or individuality in the vast crowd of humanity.

For Jesus no one is a cellophane person. As far as he's concerned we are so important that he has lived and died to save each one of us. His love for us has given us the dignity of becoming the children of God, sharing his own divine life.

Mr. Cellophane in the musical, 'Chicago,' has reminded me of the pain we can cause by failing to notice and value people. I've also realised God is to be found in these so-called 'cellophane people,' whom nobody notices. Our love and concern for them, having time for them, can restore their self respect and prevent them feeling they've become transparent and invisible. As we meet and recognise God in them they enrich our lives.
Or can they and Christ condemn us with the words from 'Chicago?' 'You look right through me, walk through me and never know I'm there.'

The musical 'Chicago' has taught me that if I'm to meet God I must recognise and welcome him in the cellophane people, whom nobody notices or, if they do, considers them to be of no importance.
Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God through a 'Possible Child'

1 comment:

  1. I too have seen and thoroughly enjoyed "Chicago"and was irresistably attracted by the lively,feisty cast of singers and dancers.Mr Sellophane did manage eventually to draw a large'oooh' from the audience in sympathy but not until he had drawn our eyes to his plight.He had to point it out to us!
    I suppose we all have our favourite groups of people whom we feel that the church and society may at times treat as invisible and not of great importance.
    For me, in the UK I feel it is middle-aged people who have become transparent! We live in such a youth culture that sometimes my friends and I feel that even the church has forgotten us!We were supported as young parents which was great but we still need evangelisation aimed at our age group.Especially when we start cutting down our hours at work and seem to lose our importance.
    I'm sure other readers will have their own 'sellophane men'