Thoughts on "The Passion"
I really did not know what to expect. I was thrilled to have been invited
to a private viewing of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion," but I had also
read all the cautious articles and spin. I grew up in a Jewish town and
owe much of my own faith journey to the influence. I have a life long,
deeply held aversion to anything that might even indirectly encourage
any form of anti-Semitic thought, language or actions.
I arrived at the private viewing for "The Passion," held in Washington,
DC and greeted some familiar faces. The environment was typically
Washingtonian, with people greeting you with a smile but seeming to
look beyond you, having an agenda beyond the words. The film was
very briefly introduced, without fanfare, and then the room darkened.
From the gripping opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, to
the very human and tender portrayal of the earthly ministry of Jesus,
through the betrayal, the arrest, the scourging, the way of the cross,
the encounter with the thieves, the surrender on the Cross, until the
final scene in the empty tomb, this was not simply a movie;
it was an encounter, unlike anything
I have ever experienced.
In addition to being a masterpiece of film-making and an artistic
triumph, "The Passion" evoked more deep reflection, sorrow
and emotional reaction within me than anything since my wedding,
my ordination or the birth of my children. Frankly, I will never be
the same. When the film concluded, this "invitation only" gathering
of "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC were shaking indeed,
but this time from sobbing. I am not sure there was a dry eye
in the place. The crowd that had been glad-handing before
the film was now eerily silent. No one could speak
because words were woefully inadequate. We
had experienced a kind of art that is
a rarity in life, the kind that makes
heaven touch earth.
One scene in the film has now been forever etched in my mind.
A brutalized, wounded Jesus was soon to fall again under the
weight of the cross. His mother had made her way along the
Via Della Rosa. As she ran to him, she flashed back to a memory
of Jesus as a child, falling in the dirt road outside of their home.
Just as she reached to protect him from the fall, she was now
reaching to touch his wounded adult face. Jesus looked at her
with intensely probing and passionately loving eyes
(and at all of us through the screen) and said
"Behold I make all things new."
These are words taken from the last Book of the New Testament,
the Book of Revelations. Suddenly, the purpose of the pain was
so clear and the wounds, that earlier in the film had been so
difficult to see in His face, His back, indeed all over His
body, became intensely beautiful. They had been borne
voluntarily for love.
At the end of the film, after we had all had a chance to recover, a
question and answer period ensued. The unanimous praise for the
film, from a rather diverse crowd, was as astounding as the
compliments were effusive (Gushing forth). The questions
included the one question that seems to follow this
film, even though it has not yet even been released.
"Why is this film considered by some to be
Frankly, having now experienced
(you do not "view" this film)
"the Passion" it is a question that is impossible to answer. A law
professor whom I admire sat in front of me. He raised his hand
and responded "After watching this film, I do not understand
how anyone can insinuate that it even remotely presents that
the Jews killed Jesus. It doesn't." He continued "It made me
realize that my sins killed Jesus". I agree. There is not a
scintilla of anti-Semitism to be found anywhere in this
powerful film. If there were, I would be among
the first to decry it. It faithfully tells the Gospel
story in a dramatically beautiful, sensitive
and profoundly engaging way.
Those who are alleging otherwise have either not seen the film
or have another agenda behind their protestations. This is not
a "Christian" film, in the sense that it will appeal only to those
who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ.
It is a deeply human, beautiful story that will
deeply touch all men and women.
It is a profound work of art. Yes, its producer is a Catholic Christian and thankfully has
remained faithful to the Gospel text; if that is no longer
acceptable behavior than we are all in trouble. History demands
that we remain faithful to the story and Christians have a right
to tell it. After all, we believe that it is the greatest story
ever told and that its message is for all men and women.
The greatest right is the right to hear the truth.
We would all be well advised to remember that the Gospel narratives
to which "The Passion" is so faithful were written by Jewish men who
followed a Jewish Rabbi whose life and teaching have forever
changed the history of the world. The problem is not the message
but those who have distorted it and used it for hate rather
than love. The solution is not to censor the message, but
rather to promote the kind of gift of love that is
Mel Gibson's filmmaking masterpiece,
It should be seen by as many people as possible. I intend
to do everything I can to make sure that is the case.
I am passionate about "The Passion."
Please copy this and send it on to all your friends to let them know
about this film so that all go see it when it comes out.
P.S. Mel Gibson stated he did not appear in his own movie,
by his choice, with one exception:
It is Gibson's hands seen nailing
Jesus to the cross.
Gibson said he wanted to do that because it was indeed
his own hands that nailed Jesus to the cross
(along with all of ours.)
Have a Wonderful Day!
February 24, 2004
"The Passion of the Christ"
"Dare To Dream" early on, was proudly promoting
"The Passion" of Christ though we have yet to see "The Passion."
We wholeheartedly agree with Paul Harvey and the law professor.......!
The Passion should not be about pointing fingers. It should be about
the great love of the man Jesus, who could have hidden, but instead
fulfilled and finished that for which he came,
"Forgiveness of all our sins."
Whatever your faith or lack of, could you not appreciate the love,
the precious teachings of forgiveness and tolerance, the profound
courage of the Christ? If only we men and women could sincerely
and without reservation practice what the Christ taught and lived!
If man would do unto others as he would have them
do unto him........Hummmmmmm.....!
Mel Gibson through "The Passion", has expressed not only his faith,
but his deep conviction and love for the sacrifices made by The Christ.
Mel is not hiding in the shadows but out in the light of day spending
millions of his earnings on a labor of love
to proclaim his faith in the Living God
(taking the hits of those who fear what, only God knows)
I wish we had leaders within our Nations governments who
practiced what the Christ taught. Many leaders today use
and abuse the Christian faith towards selfish ends.
Wouldn't it be wondrous if this movie became
a wakeup call before it's too late!