Sunday, March 23, 2008

Passion and Resurrection

I've seen The Passion of the Chirst twice, though not yet this year. It always feels a little wrong watching it during the Easter season, but that's what we did last year. Somehow if I'm trying to watch it, it just never happens during Lent (the first time I saw it was with my youth group, which actually did things at liturgically appropriate times).

The first time I started shaking about at the scourging and didn't stop for quite a long time; I didn't start crying until after confession (good move on the part of the youth group director, to ask the priests to be there afterwards). It touched me deeply, I felt that I had never quite meditated on the Passion that deeply before. Although I had read The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, on which the movie is based, this is one of the few times when this book snob really does think that a movie gets the job done better.

The second time I watched the movie I got absolutely nothing out of it until Christ was hanging on the cross and the priests are mocking him, telling him that if he were the Son of God he could come down from the cross--and the camera cuts briefly to John's face and I saw in his eyes that he believed. The mocking of the priests had no impression on his faith. He, of all the disciples, never wavered.

I thought then that Catholics are the only people in all the world whose God remains God even when he is dead. With all due respect to our separated brethren, Protestants have bare crosses. Take what I say with a grain of salt, of course, since I don't know too much about Protestant theology (if there really is one thing you can call "Protestant theology", the most you can try is "Lutheran theology" or "Calvinist theology" and even that's tricky business...but I digress). From what I've heard and read, Protestants prefer to remind themselves that he rose--they don't think too long or too hard on the fact that he died first.

The Passion really is a brilliant movie. There are no words, pretty much, everything is in Latin and Aramaic and if you don't happen to be a scholar of biblical languages (I'm certainly not) you probably won't catch much of what people are saying. The awesome thing is that so many of the best parts are without words. Like the glimpse of John that I just talked about. John never says, "I am with you to the end." He doesn't need to. But again I digress...

Another such brilliant scene is the one after Jesus dies, where we see the Devil just kind of standing in the middle of this crater-type thing and screaming in defeat.

That's when the Devil lost. Not when Christ rose--when he died. Christ's death wasn't him allowing the Devil to win, not even for a second. The moment Christ died--that was the moment that God was most in control, the moment when he showed his hand and the Devil could do nothing, nothing to counter it. That's when we won, that's when sin and death and evil lost. Not on the third day when Christ rose from the tomb, but on Good Friday at 3:00, when he hung on a cross and gave up his life; willingly laid down his life for our salvation--and that's not a vague and general our. He died for me. He died for you.

I was going to share some thoughts on my Lent, but I don't think I will now. I'll just leave you with two words: Love won. Love always wins. That's the one thing the Devil doesn't understand, the one place in which a little baby smiling for its mother can beat him hands down any day of the week. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...the cross is the sign of that love. The cross is God doing something the Devil could never have anticipated and will never understand. The cross is God's victory.

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