I was stunned into silence after seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ. In the aftermath of its gory brutality, unimaginable pain and its depiction of the sacred human body as pulverized pulp, one Scripture verse kept returning to me. Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me. If we do not seriously consider this statement of Jesus, we trivialize his life, death and resurrection into things as sterile and innocuous as the tidy crosses we hang on our walls and around our necks.
Violence is organic, dynamic, timeless. Because Jesus took it upon himself in love and fidelity, his suffering absorbed violence into a continuum that reverberates today. A savage blow against anyone is inflicted upon him. But with him as its antithesis, violence was confronted, endured and overcome.
Since Christ, violence should be no more. But it will continue until we do as he did. Until we confront, endure, and overcome interior and societal violence, Christ will suffer. Every time a woman is beaten or a child is raped or a soldier is wounded, Christ is scourged. The mass murders of 9-11, the torture of political prisoners, sexual brutality and the incessant march of wars are Christ crucified. Verbal abuse, apathy to injustice, self-absorption that steels us against another's pain are done to him.
This violence has to stop. Instead it is advertised, glorified and glamorized then packaged and sold as entertainment, status, parody, self-interest or national pride.
To limit Gibson's film to the context of a 2000-year-old event or even to the theological light of redemption would miss this pivotal point: after all these centuries, after all the religions, doctrines and pledges of love and faith, we are still tearing each other and God to pieces. We are still crucifying Christ.
To experience The Passion Of The Christ is to finally understand that "What you do to the least of these you do to me." By suffering the death of the Christ, we can experience his resurrection every time we say, "No" to violence and "Yes" to love.
Beth Lynch Counseller, Payson