Can We Do More?

"I could have done so much more."

Schindler's Regret

Oskar Schindler, public domain

Oskar Schindler, public domain

Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist living in Poland at the onset of the second World War. As the Nazi war machine began taking Jewish prisoners, Schindler saw an opportunity to make money.

Because of his position and influence he was able to cut a deal with German authorities to allow him to use the prisoners as free labor in his munitions factory. Since he did not have to pay them, he was able to make a handsome profit.

But over time this Catholic businessman began to see things differently. As he became aware of the horrors of the Nazi regime his heart changed. He began to use his connections and influence and factories to save his Jewish workers from the Holocaust.

For each prisoner he used in his factories he paid a “fee” to the Nazi officials.

As time went on he used the money he made in the early part of the war to “buy” more and more Jewish workers, just so he could save their lives.

By the end of the war he was as broke as he was at the beginning. But he saved hundreds of Jews from the sure death of the Nazi concentration camps.

In 1993, Steven Spielberg dramatized Schindler's life in the movie Schindler's List. Spielberg based the movie on a 1982 novel, Schindler's Ark, written by Thomas Keneally.

In the last scene of the movie, the allies are liberating the town Schindler's factory is located in. Germans are fleeing and Schindler is standing surrounded by the workers whose lives he had saved. The workers are thanking him, but Schindler begins to cry.

He looks around at the faces of the people he saved, and he tells them, "I could have done so much more." He then takes out his gold watch, holds it up and says, "This could have bought someone's freedom."

He tells the workers that if he had started sooner he could have saved twice as many. Every face he looks at makes him think of another face that he could have saved if he thought more of others and less of himself.

While the workers are celebrating, Schindler's heart is breaking. He had experienced firsthand the destructive power of the sin of omission.

The Rich Man

In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man may have very well been similar to Oskar Schindler at the beginning of the war.

He wasn’t a thief, or a murderer, or even a liar. He appears to have been a good guy, wealthy, successful, with a large family whom he cared about. So what action sent him to the netherworld? What sin did the rich man commit that condemned him?

In fact it was nothing he did; it was something he did not do. How many times have we heard someone say that they will get to heaven because they haven’t committed any mortal sins? “I’m a good guy,” they say, “I haven’t killed anyone or stolen anything.” This is not a Christian attitude.

Christ did not come to us to simply encourage us to lead a sinless life. He came to show us the need to take an active role in our salvation. Jesus came to work, to seek out the lost sheep. He came to bring light to a darkened world. And He came to show us the way to salvation is to follow Him and imitate His ways.

If we are to live like Christ then we must live for others.

Christ was asked what is the most important commandment. In response, He did not list all the things we should not do. Instead He told us of two things we must do, love God, and love our neighbor.

Oskar Schindler opened his heart to others. He showed his love for God by how he treated his brothers and sisters. While he may have started with selfish intentions, he allowed God to enlighten his heart and mind and see the true meaning of discipleship.

The rich man may have been without sin but he closed his heart to a neighbor in dire need. He was concerned only with himself. But the law of heaven is self-giving and in the end he was not fit to live there.

The two greatest commandments, to love God and to love neighbor, are actually the same thing. We should take a moment now and then to take stock of our lives. How are we showing our love for God?

The Struggle of the Christian Artist

Artists who are Christians often struggle with reconciling their art and their faith. It is a difficult balance to be true to a Christian worldview and yet not make art that is banal or “preachy.”

Often the Christian artist will simply stay grounded in their faith and trust that their sensibilities will somehow be apparent in the work they produce. While this is certainly a good place to start, if we are to fulfill our mission of evangelization there is more we can do.

That does not mean that Christian art has to be explicitly Christian. We need not confine ourselves to saccharine images of Jesus or the Holy Family, but the art we produce should intentionally reflect our faith. Jesus told stories, parables, they all reflected the saving Truth, but did not all do so explicitly.

Many of the parables start out as one thing, such as a quaint story of a greedy steward, only to end up as something else, such as a lesson on prudence. And perhaps that is one definition of great lasting art, something that starts out as one thing and ends up as another, all while proclaiming Truth along the way. Some of our greatest novels and movies can be described this way. In “A Man For All Seasons,” for example, a clash of wills between to strong-willed men, becomes a meditation on what it means to live with the belief that how we live this life will determine how we live the life that is to come.

Screenwriters often speak of the difference between plot and theme. They are different but related, or even intertwined. Put simply, the plot is what happens in the story, the theme is what the story is about.

Artists are no less called to evangelize than any other Christian, we have simply been given different tools to do so. Are we using those tools properly? Like Oskar Schindler, and the rich man, is there more we could have done? Is there more that we can do?

Pax Vobiscum
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at

Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at and can be reached at