Skip to content

Film Review: The Passion of Christ

By Deacon Keith Fournier
8/11/2008 (1 decade ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

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.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
8/11/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in U.S.


CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - 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 D.C., 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,D.C. 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. 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 "anti-Semitic?"

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, then 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 film making masterpiece, The Passion.

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. You will be, as well. Don't miss it!

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2018
Priests and their Pastoral Ministry.
That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.


Comments


More U.S.

Praying for Peace at the Pentagon Watch

Image of Facing the Pentagon, we held signs calling for an end to all nuclear weapons.

Every Monday morning for the past 30 years, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C. have been making their ... continue reading


The Assumption or Dormition of Mary Reveals the Fullness of Redemption for all Christians Watch

Image of The Assumption or Dormition of Mary. It is not just about Mary. It is also about all of those who say Yes to Jesus Christ. We will experience the fullness of redemption in the Resurrection of the Body and life in the coming Kingdom.

Mary's response reveals the meaning of life. We were made to give ourselves away to the Lord who has given Himself to us - in a Holy ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier on Lawrence the Deacon and the Call of Catholic Deacons in a Missionary age Watch

Image of Lawrence the deacon of Rome engaged in ministry

Catholic Deacons are ordained members of the Catholic Clergy, ordained not to the priesthood but to the ministry. We are not laymen any ... continue reading


St Dominic Invites Us to Answer the Question: Who is Jesus Christ to me? Watch

Image of A rendering of St Dominic, the great preacher, pointing to the Gospel

The Saints put legs on the Gospel. They show us by example how we are to respond to the question, Who Do You Say That I Am?  They ... continue reading


Struggles and Trials in Life? Look to Jesus in the Fourth Watch of the Night Watch

Image of We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture. We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.