Maybe the most astounding thing about Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works, and Fate/zero before it, is that through all the violence and ungrace in the show runs a theme of kindness and indeed, grace. In episode five, we get a sense of it when Tohsaka, at the episode’s conclusion, declares that Kiritsugu, Emiya’s adoptive father, considered himself a father first and mage second (quite the opposite of Tohsaka’s dad). All the learning and sacrifice of Kiritsugu’s life and family meant nothing to him in the end – not in comparison to loving the one boy – the only boy – he was able to save.
I was reminded of the story of the Prodigal Son. If you remember in the story, one of the father’s sons asks for his inheritance early (in effect shutting the door on relationship with his dad) and loses it all in wild living. Destitute, he finally decides to return home, begging to be a servant to his dad. But seeing him a long way off, the father runs to his son, embraces him, and instead celebrates, ecstatic at having received home his lost son.
The Christian life is often regarded as full of rules – not so different from other religions. And indeed, the standards are high, as Jesus Christ himself says, for the standards are holy perfection – that of God, not of what we create ourselves (though I would argue that we all fail to even meet those less lofty goals).
But even though we can’t meet the standards – those that we were designed to meet – God chooses to love us anyway. And really, love isn’t even an adequate word to describe it – He suffered and died for our sake, so great is His affection for us. He celebrates us despite our imperfections. He runs to us, embracing us when we choose to turn to Him.
Like Kiritsugu, who chooses to no longer bind Emiya in a violent, painful world of the mage, but instead treat him as a son, God removes from us the shackles of sin, though in our case, they’re of our making. And still, He runs to us. He chooses to be a Father first – a perfect, loving, and just father.
Because He is that kind of father, we can live lives free from cycles of ungrace, bound and oppressed by family, traditions, society, culture – the world. Indeed, our fates are different – in a violent world, ours are no less troubled by that which is going around us, but unlike those living as mages – we are free.