Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 15, 2004
Passionaltely recall Jesus' resurrection
The secular press seemed to have taken the mission of crucifying Mel Gibson not for the alleged anti-Semitic stance of the film, The Passion, but for the amount of violence portrayed in it.
On the other hand, Christian press has generally taken the side of praising the film for its boldness in showing such violence that has to be there in order to portray what crucifixion was really like. No book will contest the fact that death by crucifixion was the most gruesome way of dying.
Talking to a lot of my friends who have seen it, I heard how they were moved. This is how they described their experience. "The whole place was not only packed. People were crying. They were really touched. At the end of the movie there was this tremendous silence."
These comments were followed by "You should go see it." Perhaps, I should really go see it.
But when I asked them how violent it was, and they told me how, my hesitation was back. The WCR's March 8 editorial posed a great reminder: "The movie needs to be seen through the eyes of faith." I totally agree. The paschal mystery -- incarnation, passion, death, resurrection and glorification -- needs to be understood through the eyes of faith. There is no other way that will make sense.
Once I saw the films Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. Although these films were well made, the images I saw bothered me. Since then I couldn't bring myself to see such violence. I was numbed when I left the theatre.
Perhaps I really need to have my faith strengthened so I can go see this controversial film.
What saddened me were the responses of some people, who have seen it to those who refuse to see it. In one instance, as soon as I said I am bothered by the graphic portrayal of violence in the film, the person turned away from me immediately as if I would say something heretical that would contaminate that person's faith.
On another occasion I was told, "Oh you have to look beyond the violence?" Another person that I know was told, "Go see it. You will be convinced it's time to repent from your sins." And a third one, "I am sure, God will speak to you through this movie."
These left me wondering. Since when did God specifically schedule to speak to everyone through a movie?
Most of us -- Christians -- know what happened as we have been taught in our faith. In fact I believe the reason why we mature in our faith is because we know that Jesus indeed died for us and took our place on the cross.
And only God could do that. No human being could but Jesus.
What ultimately bothers me is the attitude of some people who seem to put more weight to the film -- because of the visuals they saw -- than on Sacred Scripture, that is inspired by the Holy Spirit. There is a time-tested wisdom behind the silence of the New Testament about the gruesome details of the Passion.
For some, Gibson's film will be the crux of their conversion, for others deepening of their faith. It can also potentially bind Church communities tighter -- I heard some went to see it as a group.
Nevertheless, I believe what needs to be avoided is falling into the fad that absolutizes the experience of seeing this film. The call of deepening our faith is for every Christian and there are many ways to do that.
We should also not forget the Passion, though an integral part of the paschal mystery, is not its only part. Jesus did not remain crucified.
Letter to the Editor - 03/29/04
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