Friday, April 6, 2012

The Passion of the Christ

His the doom
Ours the mirth
when He came down to earth
Flower of Jesse's tree
born on earth to save us
Him the Father gave us.
Taken from a song I know as Cantus, which is actually more of a Christmas carol, 
but I find it to be fitting insofar as it addresses the ultimate purpose of Christ's birth.

          Such was running through my mind as we watched The Passion of the Christ.  There were quite a few things that struck me, though unfortunately most of them are forgotten now.  A few things were given a deeper meaning, thanks to the Lenten bible studies some friends of ours hosted - such as how the 30 pieces of silver was the price of a slave who was impaled; and how the teachings of Christ were really, truly radical in his time, that His listeners had never heard anything like it before.  For our part, we grow up knowing the story, even if we are not all Christians ourselves, but everyone knows the story of Jesus, everyone knows what His most basic teachings were - back then no one did.  No one knew how the story ended, or that they were even in a story at all, let alone a story that would be known by the majority of the world's population in millenia to come.  
          Christ was betrayed by a kiss, a symbol of love that was in this case completely a lie, and it struck me how similarity between this action and the actions of many today, who give away symbols of love never intending for them to signify love at all.  So many people struggle to find love and acceptance in the symbols, only to be deceived and suffer more grief and and heartbreak as a result.
          Judas could have, would have been forgiven, if he only sought to ask.  His betrayal is no more heinous than our betrayals, our sins that we commit now.  Each and every sin is a betrayal of the love and friendship of God, and yet He will forgive all, so long as we come to Him with a penitential and contrite heart.  As far as the movie goes, Judas hung  himself with not only a sin against the New Covenant, despair, on his soul, but also a sin against the Old:  the rope was taken from a dead thing, and to touch a dead thing was considered to make a man himself unclean and unworthy before the sight of God.
          Simon of Cyrene, in the movie, proclaims that he is innocent, and pressed into carrying the cross of the guilty.  Such words are soaked in irony:  it was Christ Himself who was innocent, and took upon Himself the weight and guilt of our sins so that we might not die, that Simon might not die.  Christ was carrying to Calvary Simon's sins, and Simon was blessed, so blessed, to be able to help Christ carry the load.  Simon was literally able to shoulder the Cross and help ease the burden of his sins on the shoulders of Christ.  Every time we, even in our day and age, willingly shoulder our cross we help to ease the suffering of Christ.  How blessed was Simon, to be able to actually see the result!
          
Is airiu!
Who hangs from yonder passion tree?
Your Son, dear Mother, 
do you not know Me?

Judas, James and John
Have you seen my only Son?
Ochon!  My eyes are blind!
Ochon!  My heart is wrung!
More from Cantus.

          What to say of Mary, and her participation in the Passion of her Son?  Her pain hit a more personal vein this viewing, knowing that I am also a mother, and though my child most likely will not suffer such as Christ did, I know they will have crosses of their own to bear, and there will be nothing I can do to help them.  Mary's own Flesh was most surely crucified that day on Calvary; and she needed the redemption of this sacrifice as well. For if Christ were not to have come into the world, she would not have been immaculately conceived, and would have been born into original sin like the rest of us.  
           For the purposes of the movie, the "devil" is seen across the street during the Way of the Cross by our Blessed Lady, and it occurred to me that she must have been tempted, too.  And, though she was the most perfect human being to walk the earth, she could have fallen, just as Adam and Eve before her fell.  All it would have required was for her to say "No, Lord, I cannot, will not go through this suffering.  Give unto You my only Child?  My Son, whom You have given me?  I cannot; I will not."  For her fiat was not just a "yes" to bearing the Son of God, it was also an affirmation that she would partake of His life and follow it until the end.  In her fiat she said "yes" to raising the Son; "yes" to following His teachings; "yes" to walking with Him wear He went; "yes" to being with Him in His Passion; "yes" to being with Him at His most inhumane death.  There are a couple of times in the movie, when it seems as though Christ might not have the strength to pick Himself up and carry on - then He sees His Mother, willing along with Himself:  "Not my will, but Thine, O Lord."

Ia airiu agus ochon!
Sad I am 'til You return,
to have You at the break of dawn!
Ochon airiu!  Without You!

          There is much suffering, pain, anguish, and loneliness which was experienced that first Good Friday, and many understandably seek to shrink back, run, deny like the Apostles did, away from the Truth that was present that day, and is still present today.  But, as our good Fr. Fasano says:  "You cannot come to Easter Sunday without first passing through Good Friday."  Even in the midst of all their despair, the Apostles were left with a little bit of hope, though perhaps they did not understand fully until the day of the Resurrection.  So, too, are we also left with hope, looking to the rising Son, from whom is all salvation.   


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