Jesus: The Character Actor

b4ce9a8b8eaf2339f2dedcf6f2b52d35I know I look like Brad Pitt but I don’t want to be him. I wouldn’t want to be Tom Hanks or Tom Cruise either.

For the oldsters, it may be Douglas Fairbanks, Gary Cooper or Humphrey Bogart. Wouldn’t want to be any of them.

Is it because of their fame, money or large estates? Nope. It’s because of their stars. They’re usually the reason you go to a theater. They’re the drawing card.

What I do want to be and I hope I am, is a character actor. A character actor. I’m not sure what that means but I know its purpose. Character actors make the story in a movie move forward. They inform and enlighten the star of the movie. Often character actors are very smart people – they know everything about marriage yet they’re not married. (Go figure.) They don’t make much money, usually a have happy job and are quite content with themselves. I guess that’s why the star turns to them for confidence, perspective or saying to the star, “just get off your butt and go get the girl of your dreams.”

Jesus is telling us all to become character actors. Not the stars with top billing but secondary actors with a more important role in the lives of others. “Take my yoke” and place it upon your shoulder, Jesus says. In other words, take my problems and make them your own, as best you can.

You’re watching a movie and you see this character actor doing what characters do. You swear you’ve seen him before but you can’t remember the name of the other film. And, you can’t remember his name. At a party you hear someone say, “I know I’ve seen him in a lot of films, who is he; who is she, go Google it.”

Believe it or not but Jesus was a character actor. He wasn’t the star of the greatest movie ever made. His dad was the star. Jesus helped to move the story line forward to each of us. Jesus uses every preposition possible (“with, in, through”) to connect himself to his dad but in that union the center of attention is the star, our Creator.

Louis Guzman has been in 145 television shows and movies. I know you don’t know his name but if you saw his face, you’d say, “I know that guy!”

A good friend is telling you a troubling story and you could easily interrupt with a troubling story of your own (or trumping your friend with an even more troubling story) but you keep your mouth shut. If you were to speak then there’d be two stars on life’s stage instead of the necessary one. You listen as best you can. You’re able to console, give advice and keep a listening stare to support your friend.

A “listening stare,” a good term. It’s golden in its meaning and in measuring a friend’s yoke that’s been placed upon your shoulders.

I’m not the star. I’m a character in faith, a character in friendship and a character in fact.

Did you know that Rosie O’Donnell was a character actor before becoming a star? Did you know that if it wasn’t for Rosie O’Donnell, Meg Ryan would still be listening to the radio talk show host…Meg would never have returned the engagement ring to Bill Pullman…She’d never have seen the Valentine lit up on the Empire State Building…Tom Hanks would be still be talking to the talk show host and grieving his dead wife…and the kid (Ross Malinger, by the way) would have grown up without a mom.

Be a character actor. Carry someone’s yoke upon your shoulder. It may very well lessen the yoke that you carry. You can always try to become a star next year.


Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture

The newest book is “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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1 Response to Jesus: The Character Actor

  1. Jack Carini says:

    Great stuff, as usual!


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