Holy Week: Patient Yato, Patient Yahweh

If you were to describe Yato, what words would you use? Lazy? Easy-going? Self-centered?

What about…patient?

Patience, in fact, is one of Yato’s most defining characteristics in the Noragami anime.  It’s best demonstrated in how Yato faithfully waits for Yukine, trusting in him to make the right decision and remaining steadfast even as he lays dying.  It’s in serious qualities such as this where an anime kami resembles the living Christ.  He, too, demonstrated a loving patience for mankind, remaining obedient to the Father unto death.  As Yato struggles from his blight and refuses to kill Yukine, Christ is tortured on the cross, refusing to call down legions of angels to pull him off and destroy his enemies, knowing that his death and resurrection would lead to the possibility of redemption for all.

God sees something in us, even as the Bible declared us His enemies, and provides a path to salvation.  Yato saw something in Yukine as well.  Even as Yukine heads further and further down the path of sin and self-destruction, Yato remains patient and graciously loves his shinki.  He even refuses to replace him with Nora, a former shinki who wants to return to Yato.

Nora (Noragami)
Art by Kane (Pixiv ID 42863109)

But it’s also through Nora that we see that Yato’s patience isn’t infinite.  He is gracious and kind to Yukine, a lost soul in several definitions of the phrase, but has shut the door on Nora.  And why does he do so?  Those of us who haven’t read the manga don’t know the details, but the anime does give some hint.  Yato rejects Nora because she first rejected him in whatever way she acted. This is demonstrated by how Nora refuses to take Yato’s name, an evil thing in sight of the kami.  It’s a sign of disrespect.

God acts similarly.  He is patient, but His call is also absolute.  He won’t accept just a portion of you – He demands all of you, wanting for your heart and soul to be devoted to Him.  The Bible tells that God gives His “adopted” children the title of co-heirs, princes and princesses of His kingdom.  In last week’s episode of Game of Thrones, Roose Bolton offered to change his illegitimate son’s last name from “Snow” to his own if he would accomplish a task.  Doing so would make him an heir.  God does the same when we surrender to Him, and the kami of Noragami likewise let their shinki partake of their lives once they take the names assigned to them.

But Nora does the unthinkable, rejecting the invitation.  As with the unforgiveable sin of the Bible – rejection of the Holy Spirit and all that entails – Nora has, perhaps in not so many words, told Yato that she doesn’t need him.  Her offer to return isn’t a true one because it lacks the necessary conviction that would show a change of heart.

Unfortunately, many of us live Christian lives as Nora lives, coming and going as we see fit.  We have good hours, days, even seasons in our faith, but once troubles come, when we become distracted, once doubts seep in, once business falls upon us, and especially once temptations arrive, we leave God, demonstrating that he is not our all in all.

On this Holy Week, when we remember what Christ did on the cross and His triumph over sin and death, it’s as good a time as any to look within ourselves and see if we’ve taken God’s patience in vain and in deed, if not in words, rejected God’s call of lordship.  I challenge you to ask yourselves, have you done this?  Have you become a Nora?



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