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  • Jul14Wed

    The Sins of the Past

    In Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff must come to terms with her past. Can the Avenger do so? July 14, 2021 by Ken Ramstead
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    Faith & Friends
    In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, is one of the Avengers, a respected voice for reason, a redoubtable ally and a fearsome foe. Adept at espionage and an expert martial artist, she is an invaluable force for good and an important part of SHIELD, Earth’s counter-terrorism agency.

    But it wasn’t always so. 

    Before she joined her friends Hawkeye, Captain America and Iron Man, Black Widow was one of their deadliest enemies, responsible for countless acts of evil.

    “Before I worked for SHIELD,” she says, “I made a name for myself. I have a very specific skill set. I didn’t care who I used it for, or on. I got on SHIELD’s radar in a bad way.” 

    In Black Widow, which premiered on Disney+ this month, Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) finds herself alone after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Forced to confront a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past, she’s being pursued by forces that will stop at nothing to bring her down. 

    Founding Father
    Natasha must deal with her history as Black Widow and the broken relationships left in her wake long before she became an Avenger. 

    “I’ve got red on my ledger,” she says. “I’d like to wipe it out.”

    The Apostle Paul would be able to relate. More than any other person except Jesus, Paul is responsible for starting Christianity.

    It is estimated that he travelled more than 15,000 kilometres from one end of the Roman Empire to the other in order to spread the good news about Jesus. During that 30-year journey, he was shipwrecked three times, suffered numerous beatings, was publicly stoned and was imprisoned more than five times. In the process, Paul founded churches, converted unbelievers, and 13 of the New Testament’s 27 books claim him as a writer. 

    Fateful Encounter
    But it wasn’t always so. 

    Paul, or Saul, to use his Hebrew name, was once an intolerant traditionalist who persecuted the followers of the crucified Jesus.

    “I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today,” he told a crowd of Jews in Jerusalem. “I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished” (Acts 22:3-5). 

    It was on the road to Damascus that Saul was hit by a light so intense that he was blinded and fell to the ground in agony (see Acts 22:7-10).

    A voice asked him, “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

    “Who are you?” Saul asked.

    “I am Jesus of Nazareth,” the voice replied, “whom you are persecuting.”

    “What shall I do, Lord?” Saul asked.

    “Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.” That encounter changed Paul forever. His sight eventually restored, he went on to become the greatest missionary of all time.

    Who We Are
    Like Natasha, Paul had to make peace with his past if he was to make anything out of his future. For Paul, his conversion had given him an entirely new outlook on life and religion. It had made him a different person.

    “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    For Natasha, alone and isolated, it also comes down to something within herself.

    “At some point, we all have to choose,” she says. “To be what the world wants you to be. Or to be who you are.”

    That’s something we all must heed.

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