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I was quite happy to keep it that way.
Not being a fan of gore, and fully aware of Mel Gibson’s penchant for bloodiness, I had a good enough imagination to visualize Christ’s sufferings without seeing his extended version of it.
The Escape Is Over
This Lent a friend of mine bought the DVD and wanted me to watch it with her. No one had asked me to see the film before, and I felt this was God’s way of telling me It Is High Time I Did.
Reluctantly, I agreed. Two other Christian friends were invited to come the very next evening to my house. I wanted to get this thing over and done with! It wasn’t the kind of movie I looked forward to viewing.
They said they’d love to join us. There: I was going to have to suffer through Christ’s Passion with Him.
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Throughout the day of our gathering, I was forcefully reminded that the name ‘Satan’ in Hebrew means ‘the opposer' as he is opposed to what God wants.
I’m not good at switching the TV into DVD mode. After twiddling the knobs for about an hour that afternoon, sweating buckets because I was getting nowhere, I called my husband for help. (I hate doing that!)
He told me that he ‘twiddles the knobs until it works.’ I thanked him profusely for his valuable help and texted my son in college.
He was in class and would get back to me at 3:15 p.m. Relieved, I pottered around the house until the appointed time.
3:15 p.m. came and went with no phone call. To stop myself from obsessing, I twiddled the knobs a bit more and got the sound but no picture. After fifteen more minutes I could stand it no longer and actually phoned my son.
To calm my nerves, and praying to the Holy Spirit to make everything O.K. for that evening, I took my cell phone down to the barn and started brushing my horse. Immediately my cell rang and it was my son.
I ran back to the house and my son directed me through the process. Two wires had come out of the back of the TV, and reattaching them was crucial to the outcome in addition to twiddling the right knobs.
Ha, take that, Satan!
Again, What Does ‘Satan’ Mean?
Flushed with success, I went about getting food ready for my soon-to-be-arriving guests.
In the middle of slicing the tomatoes I gashed my finger. My immediate thought was, ‘Satan, you really don’t want us to watch this film, do you? Well, we’re gonna, so there!’
I still wasn’t completely ready by the time my friends arrived, but luckily they’re my friends because they like me not for my food. (This is where I remind anyone who doesn’t know or remember that I’m British.)
We ate and chatted, while trying to calm down my English bulldog Jeeves, who was thrilled to have so many people to say ‘hello’ to.
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The movie was tough to watch, as anticipated.
I doubt whether I have anything more meaningful to say about it than others who’ve done so before me. But that won’t stop me adding my two cents’ worth!
Imagining the sufferings of Christ is very different from ‘witnessing’ the gratuitous cruelty of the Romans in those days. Even if Mel Gibson included details that aren’t historically true, it is well documented how cruel those people were. The truth is, Christ suffered horribly for us.
It was also interesting to see the dilemma of Pontius Pilate, faced with either putting Christ to death or virtually being put to death himself. He knew he was sending an innocent man to a wretched torture.
There, But For the Grace of God, Go I
The Jewish leaders were clearly jealous of Christ’s authority. But some of them genuinely believed they were dealing with a heretic who had delusions of being God, who needed to be silenced.
If I had been a Jew in those days I, too, would have strewn Christ’s path with palm fronds as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Carried away by the sentiment of the crowd, I’d have shouted “Hosanna in the highest!” with the best of them.
And seven days later, swayed by popular opinion yet again, I’d have cried out for Christ’s blood: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
Do you ever stop to think about how lucky we are to be born after Christ’s time?
As wonderful as it would have been to witness His miracles, I’m pretty sure I’d have agreed with whatever the Jewish authorities told me to believe.
Being alive in this day and age, we have the benefit of hindsight. We have the support of centuries of faith, the example of the saints – ordinary people who exhibited extraordinary love and proved that it is possible to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
I love that last line in the Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” It is wonderful to know that the saints and the angels are with us at every Mass!
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Not just at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, when He dies on the cross, but every day, we need to truly appreciate what Christ went through for our salvation: ‘we have been bought at a price’ (1 Cor. 6:20). A very high price.
Whenever we’re inclined to make selfish decisions, let’s remember His selflessness in suffering torture and humiliation to redeem every last one of us.
Whatever wrong we’ve done, God wants to forgive us. We just have to repent and ask Him for forgiveness. His Son died so we could be forgiven.
This Easter will we spurn Jesus' sacrifice on Good Friday by refusing to beg forgiveness, thereby condemning ourselves to eternal damnation?
If you haven’t watched The Passion of Christ, our pastor - and I - recommend it as a way of grasping the awesomeness of what Jesus did for us in order that we might join Him in His Resurrection.