Saturday, March 15, 2008


“The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson is quite a marvelous portrayal of the love of God. While Gibson does introduce certain unscriptural traditions and visions into the movie, he does do a marvelous job of highlighting “. . . what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

For this reason, having purchased the DVD, I find myself desiring to watch it once or twice annually. I usually watch it during the season of Lent and sometimes Advent. Twice is all that I have the emotional energy and strength to endure, as there are portions where I sob to the point of near convulsions.

It is not the brutality done to the Lord Jesus that strikes me so strongly. It is not the evil of the religious leaders. It is not the evil of the world, nor the helplessness of the onlookers, nor the corruption of government officials. Even the most horrible brutality directed against humanity and against God is not what tears my heart to shreds.

What tears at the fabric of my being is the clear portrayal of the true cause of all of what Jesus endures. The point that absolutely strips me of all strength is when Jesus receives the initial flogging and collapses, then, drawing upon strength from the love that brought Him to be born of the virgin, He stands again to be certain that the suffering is sufficient to cover my debt and the debt of the world. Such love brings forth from my heart and soul the question, “Why Lord? Why?”

Every time that I see this, this question springs from my soul. For I know that I am not worthy of such love and sacrifice. The purity of His love, His divine holiness, is manifest beyond any denial in this action. As St. Paul writes, such love truly surpasses knowledge. Where in the world is such love ever displayed? Only in the passion of the Christ. Nowhere else is such pure and unadulterated and holy love observed.

It is a strange sorrow that observing this produces. It is a sorrow that weeps with both overwhelming grief and overwhelming joy. It is a sorrow that produces both contrition and repentance. As I observe such unknowable love, I do know God’s love. As I observe this love, I truly hate my sinful self and want nothing to do with my sin, being turned by God’s love to look toward His righteousness as my only desire. While I cannot know this love in my own actions and attitudes because of my sinfulness, nevertheless I do know this love in the gifts of Baptism and the Holy Communion. In these I truly encounter God’s love declared to be my own.

This is the why that gives the peace that surpasses all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

So while watching this movie completely drains me, it also leaves me renewed, in the knowledge of the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.

No comments: