Queen's counsel XXXIV

June 2004

Have you seen "the Passion of the Christ"? What did you think? May we sneak off from our Holy Week Residential at Queens to see it on the afternoon of the day that it all happened, Good Friday? Never a better opportunity or appropriate moment you might think; we were granted permission. Well, I joined the group who went partly because the time was allocated as a quiet time, partly because it was precisely what we were all engaging with and partly because I suspected that I might be asked to offer an opinion sometime. What better reasons than to follow up last month's letter from the Vicar?

I can understand people complaining about all the gratuitous violence but I would want to relate that back to what really happened. A Roman scourging taking Jesus to the extreme limits of pain and life itself may not be far away from the truth. Jesus was also portrayed as having far more to suffer than the other two victims on the way of the cross. It's very brutal and the Church generally presents a pretty sanitized version of the Good Friday events. The physical aspects in the film put that straight without a doubt but I do wonder about the portrayal of evil and the sketchy development of most of the players, Pilate, Jesus and his mother excepted.

And what about Holy Saturday, the day between the days not much focus on that either in the film or in the Church really. For the resurrection to be truly meaningful, the crucifixion of a genuinely innocent victim is crucial. Equally, the death of our Lord has to be final, something that his mother and disciples would find so hard to bear, let alone understand, for the risen Lord to have such impact then and through the ages. The hindsight of resurrection makes it difficult for us to engage with the time in between but we do still live in between Christ's ascension and his coming again in judgement, when he "will make all things new" [Rev.21:5]; at least, some hope so.

How does that affect our lives? The film shows how the memory of life experiences flash before Jesus as he prepares to die. It begins to put things a little into perspective but maybe prompts us to become more aware of those precious moments of insight when we too are called perhaps to respond in His way to life's challenges and delights what do you think?

Let's just ponder the mystery with words from a song by Doug Constable that we used during Holy Week:

Jesus, our sacrifice, heavenly and human;
Here, though departed: we adore you.
Brother, teacher, healer, defender,
Friend of each creature: we adore you.

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This page was last updated on 2004-04-28

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