My wife and I saw “The Passion of the Christ” this afternoon. Since this will probably be the most reviewed movie in history I will add my two cents. I was both prepared and unprepared for this movie. As a long time watcher of horror movies since I was a kid I did not think that the blood and gore would have much effect on me. This movie is very anti, but what it is anti about is sin. This movie is hard to watch because a microscope zoomed in on our sins is hard to watch. We can watch a movie like “Shindler’s List” and be shocked by mans treatment of man. That men, women, and children were treated as less then objects and brutalized by people who at the end of the day went home to their own families. Yet we can watch a movie such as “Shindler’s List” and still can be distant to the evil that occurred since we can put the blame on someone else. That another generation in another country perpetuated such horrible acts. What makes watching the passion difficult is that we don’t have that divide. This was redemptive suffering for our very sins. That it was our actions that mocked and scourged Jesus. Our sins drove those nails through the precious hands and into the wood of the cross. Our indifference to sin was the weight that held the crown of thorns on his head.
In many ways this movie is what I thought was missing from every movie and mini-series that included the Crucifixion. Sin and redemption were palpable. The visual imagery and the symbolic actions portrayed a supernatural reality that I had not seen before. This movie shatters the cosmetic Jesus sold to us as a nice guy with some nice things to say. I don’t think I have ever prayed while watching a film before, except maybe to pray that it would end soon. The words “I am sorry” kept coming to the front of my consciousness. What ever can be said about Mel Gibson the man, I say that he knows what sin is and what it truly means.
I have no complaint about those who choose not to watch this movie because of the violence in it. I am just very glad that I have seen it . I have been most attracted to the sorrowful mysteries before and I think that this will help me to pray them better. There is much in the movie that brings Jesus, the Apostles, and his mother alive. I also have more sympathy for the Apostles now. Peter after he had denied Christ three times and then wept with the realization still was not strong enough to go to the cross. To see Christ suffer on the Cross is hard enough in a movie and to imagine what went through the minds of his Mother and St. John is hard to fathom.
Prior to the movie the theater at least had the decency to show only previews for family movies and didn’t show previews for any R rated fair even though this movie is rated R. Just before the movie starts they ran the “Silence is Golden” film clip to discourage people from talking during the movie. Never was such an admonition so unnecessary. I also observed the silence as people just sat in their chairs as the credits rolled without moving to get up. They probably didn’t make much money on concessions for this movie, but if they had offered packages of tissues at five bucks a pop they would have sold out. Afterwords we had to pick up some groceries and while waiting in line by the counter was a display of Easter Baskets. Large plastic baskets filled with candy, a back pack, a basketball and other assorted things. This was the total antithesis of the experience of watching the passion of Jesus and his love for us to be distilled down by our culture into plastic with goodies.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty, so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!
And behold, you were within me and I was outside, and there I sought for you, and in my deformity I rushed headlong into the well-formed things that you have made.
You were with me, and I was not with you. Those outer beauties held me far from you, yet if they had not been in you, they would not have existed at all.
You called, and cried out to me and broke open my deafness; you shone forth upon me and you scattered my blindness.
You breathed fragrance, and I drew in my breath and I now pant for you.
I tasted, and I hunger and thirst; you touched me, and I burned for your peace. –Saint Augustine