Saturday 7/15/17 “You can’t win, Darth”

       It is the most powerful scene in the first Star Wars movie: The moment when Darth Vader confronts his former mentor and aged Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi in the corridor of the Death Star.

It is a scene that, in 1977, lacked much of the backstory that would be revealed in later films, but somehow tells you everything you need to know about these two characters. You know it’s not going to end well for the old man, but you can’t look away. You just know something crucial in the plot line is about to take place.

The build up is perfect: We know that once upon a time, the two had a close relationship until Vader was seduced by the dark side of the Force and murdered Kenobi’s prized pupil. This event leads to a 19-year estrangement that comes to a head during the franchise’s first (and in my opinion, best) light saber battle. From the moment the Millenium Falcon lands on the space station, Vader can sense Kenobi’s presence and he will not rest until he meets his former tutor face-to-face. This is a man with a deep-seated axe to grind and he is not about to let this moment pass away.

Sure, Kenobi was a great warrior, but that was a long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away. Now, he’s a wizened old man who is more than a few years past his prime. By contrast, Vader is at the top of his game: He has just destroyed the last remnants of the Old Republic, is standing on the threshold of unprecedented power is ready to show the man who underestimated him just how great he has become.

“When I left you, I was but the learner. Now I am the master,” he tells Obi Wan after igniting the sword I knew would be at the top of my Christmas list later that year.

“Only a master of evil, Darth,” Kenobi replies.

As the battle begins, Vader comments that the Jedi Knight has become weak in his old age, and it is during this exchange that Kenobi offers up a truth that is as profound as it is simple, demonstrates a depth of knowledge that goes beyond the sith’s comprehension and reflects the overarching lesson in today’s gospel. “You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

This is not a line that simply differentiates the good guy from the bad guy in a movie. It is a line that illustrates how Vader missed the entire point of his Jedi training. Obi Wan understands that a student can never really rise above the Teacher. No matter what he or she has learned, they are only rediscovering what has already been revealed. They can equal those who have educated them over the years, but they can never truly know it all.

Obi Wan understands that while a slave can achieve freedom, he can never conquer his master without giving into hate and becoming the very thing he’s liberated himself from. In a universe that is bound together by something larger than itself, everything that has happened and will happen has already been decided by a “force” that knows everything down to the number of hairs on your head. Obi Wan knows that even as Vader strong arms star systems into submission there are some things that just aren’t within his grasp.

And in that moment, when Kenobi takes one final look at Luke Skywalker before succumbing to his fate, he knows he’s about to fulfill his own prophecy. Yet, he is not afraid. Even though death may take the body, it cannot kill the soul. It is only when we let go of everything we fear to lose and pass from one life into the next that we will have all of the answers and the opportunity to explain what we did…or did not… in this life time in an effort to become more than we could ever imagine. Who knew that the Jedi and Jesus could have so much in common?

May the Force be with you.

Today’s readings for Mass: GN 49: 29-32; 50: 15-26A; PS 105: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7; MT 10: 24-33

About the Author

Julie Young is an award-winning writer and author from Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA, whose work has been seen in Today’s Catholic Teacher, The Catholic Moment, and National Catholic Reporter. She is the author of nine books including: A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin, The CYO in Indianapolis and Central Indiana and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism. She is a graduate of Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis and holds degrees in writing and education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She can be found online at

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  1. Great fictional reflection btw. So let’s go with darkness for a sec. Darkness will have you think it can over come you and destroy you as if it is a master. We are called to be Christ’s lights in this world. So simply teach and prefer to have sin and immorality away from you and that toothless kitty cat satan seems to flee to somewhere unlike a dark master but more like a toothless feral cat. Should he ever come too close to you then let your Holy Spirit roaring master of the jungle in you come out and shine his light to cause the dark one to flee. All that being said. It is time for you to go grass HOPPAH! you have snatched the pebble from the masters hand. Be well on your way grass hopper.

  2. Julie
    Your imagination and the way you use it are a blessing to you and to all you share it with. In today’s 1st reading Joseph seems like Obi Wan when he forgives his brothers and understands that the force and spirit of God directs us all to good.
    Thanks your the best,
    PS stop skipping weeks I miss you on your off weekends

  3. Thank you very much…you all get bonus points if you spot all of the “Easter egg” lines from the film! I apologize if the photo is showing up sideways…it does on my iPad but not on my computer and I don’t know how to fix it. LOL

  4. Julie, sorry girl but IMHO you laid an egg on this one. I Like SiFi but never seen star wars – but I get it. However, there could be other reader’s in our so called “3rd world countries” that might be scratching their head on this reflection. Anyway my sister in Christ, I’ve read some really – really good reflections from you, keep up the good writing or should I say “Let the force be with you”. ;-). Again, what I’m telling you is all in my humble opinion. Peace be with you.

  5. From Zeppelin song references to Star Wars. I love your use of popular culture to illustrate the meaning of scripture readings. Keep up the great work.

  6. Brilliant! Your reflections are such a joy to read. Thank you for being a contributor and sharing your gift.

  7. And again, brilliant! Now I REALLY get it. Your best analogy yet! Do you think the Sky Wars author knew that his story reflected a great gospel truth?

  8. Actually, from what I know, George Lucas was raised Methodist and never really got “into” religion yet…I thought it was wildvthat he came up with such a simple concept like “the force” that resonates so well with those of us who have a natural bond with the Holy Spirit. He always said he wanted to make something simple that people would kind of “naturally” understand so that it didn’t require a lot of explanation.

  9. Hi, Julie. Know I’m a day late with this comment, but I usually do take a day or more to consider reflections and the Gospel they take inspiration from. I liked your use of the Star Wars lines. I have noticed that many, many Christians can get inspiration from the sf and the super hero and fantasy movies/comics, which are all, in a way, modern parables, and sometimes a retelling of the oldest parables. The human longing to be super, to heal all ills, to be divine, and the plots that have heroes and heroines who discover (as we do!) that they are indeed the offspring of the divine. Thanks. And btw, two points: anyone in “third world countries” who has access to computers to read this page, undoubtedly accesses modern cinema releases. And secondly, if your best effort hits even one target, you have successfully completed your task.

  10. I echo the sentiments of Chris Curley, above.
    I pick up the readings at various times and often find my thoughts returning to them throughout the day, as was the case with this reflection. Using contemporary associations does make for easier understanding and is likely to reach people who wouldn’t be receptive to a message written in a “traditional” manner, especially those people who aren’t “into” religion.

  11. Julie I most comend u , a wonderful reflection , especially using my favourite sequel star wars. Thanks a lot

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