After turning on the news and seeing all of the turmoil that is going on in the world, it’s easy to think that the world has abandoned God altogether. It’s easy to feel that the number of good Catholic Christians is dwindling down to nothing day by day. However, if The Lion King reminds us of one thing, it should be that the world is crying out for God’s presence.
Major Themes in The Lion King
If you haven’t seen The Lion King before, there are spoilers ahead!
The Lion King begins with a monkey presenting Simba, the son of the reigning King Mufasa, to the rest of the animal kingdom on Pride Rock, their home. Mufasa is so proud of his son, who has done nothing at this point except exist, that he wants to share him with the world. Although the world tells us that we don’t have any value until we start making money, this movie reveals the desire we have to be valued for just being who we are.
Rescuing and Reconciliation
Fast forward a little bit, and Simba and Nala have gotten themselves into a pickle. They ran away from Zazu, Mufasa’s right-hand bird, and are now surrounded by hyenas. Before the hyenas attack them, Mufasa rescues them. He then has Zazu take Nala home so he can talk with Simba alone. Mufasa teaches Simba a life lesson not through anger or bitterness, but with love and patience as they gaze up at the sky together. He uses Simba’s shortcomings and failings as a way to teach Him about the world.
They then proceed to play and roll around in the grass because at the end of the day, Mufasa still delites in Simba no matter what he has done. That’s the same relationship we have with God the Father who loves us no matter what we do.
The Ultimate Sacrifice
Later on in the movie, Simba, who still has basically done nothing but get in trouble at this point, is tricked by his evil Uncle Scar and becomes trapped in a gorge while a wild herd of wildebeests is stampeding through. Upon hearing that his son is trapped, Mufasa runs to the gorge to save Simba. Knowing that the stampede is fierce and he may not come out alive, he jumps into the gorge to save his son. He successfully gets his son to safety but dies in the process.
If this doesn’t remind you of Christianity, nothing will. This is the same kind of sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross, one of redemptive love. Mufasa truly showed Simba the love of a Father for his son just like the love God the Father and Son have for us.
Although Scar is the one who killed Mufasa, Simba, thinking that he is responsible for his dad’s death, runs away to another part of Africa where he meets his two friends, Timon and Pumba.
They teach him the phrase, Hakuna Matata, which means “no worries.” This phrase is meant to symbolize the meaninglessness of life and that nothing really matters. It’s a common viewpoint that many people have today, although it is very seldom sad overtly.
Through preoccupation with social media, video games, the internet, and much more, people have become detached from the real world. They begin to feel isolated and often feel like their lives lose more and more meaning. Living in sin also detaches us from God and can make us feel depressed and ashamed which leads to withdrawing from relationships. This place can also be analogized to hiding in our sin and guilt out of shame. We don’t want to face our wrongdoings and would rather run away than admit we were wrong and fight for what’s right.
The Promptings of the Holy Spirit
One day, a lion attacks Timon and Pumba and Simba steps in to find that the lion is a lioness and his old friend, Nala. She had been searching for help to save Pride Rock. Nala tries to convince Simba to come back to Pride Rock and save the kingdom from Scar. She sees the good in him despite him running away and tries to convince him to come back and save Pride Rock.
At first, he denies her, but he then receives motivation from the monkey who tells him his father lives on inside of him. This is kind of like when the Holy Spirit lights a fire in us. Sometimes we feel that we are against all odds and are too small to accomplish something. This is when God inspires us with the mindset that it is not about who we are, but who He is and what he can do through us.
Relationships and Triumph
Simba returns to Pride Rock and is followed by Timon and Pumba. They have realized that when you care about someone, life has meaning. We are meant to be in relationship with one another. Simba fights and valiantly defeats his Uncle Scar. He is able to save Pride Rock, takes his rightful place as king, and restore the kingdom to beauty. Good triumphs over evil; love triumphs over hate; beauty is restored. It’s a story we hear so often, but so desperately want to be repeated.
The Longings of the Human Heart
If there’s one thing you take away from The Lion King, please let it be that the world is not rejecting God, it is crying out for Him. In this time of need, we as Catholics, need to point the world to Christ.
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Lauren Cook is a food and faith blogger. She started her blog, LillianDora, to share healthy and yummy recipes with others and bring people closer to God through food. You can find out more about her here.