Movie Gift From God

The Passion of the Christ was a gift from God for our times. It was his way of saying, “It's time to sit up straight and pay attention.” It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look around and see a world that's not far from rock bottom. The only thing he ever asked us to do we're not doing: obey. Noah obeyed. Abraham obeyed. Christ obeyed. But we're not obeying. We've taken the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes to a whole new level. We've rewritten them according to our own watered-down truths.

One truth that is largely ignored in our age is that suffering is not only good but also is to be sought after. To embrace our sufferings with joy as Christ embraced his own cross in the Passion is an act of obedience. “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Each time we choose to suffer for others as Christ chose to suffer for us, we are allowed by the grace of God to be a part of his passion and to share in his Kingdom. And it is precisely our suffering, our willingness to suffer, that makes us eligible for eternal life. It is not enough simply to tell the world about Christ; we must imitate him. Like it our not, want it or not, believe it or not, we were born to suffer — with him, for him, for each other — and, like him, to “make all things new.”

At creation, God the Father gave us the gift of eternal life. We lost that gift by our disobedience. God the Son, through his death and resurrection, forgave our sin and once again offered eternal life. He even provided a movie to remind us of his offer and the choice it requires. Do we live comfortably and die, or do we suffer and die with Jesus and live? What say you?

CARIN DELANCEY Fort Wayne, Indiana

Who Do We Say He Is?

Christians say “Mel's Christ” is the Messiah, Jews say No and many say that, in any case, the state of Israel moots both the idea of a political messiah of the kind Jews in the movie were expecting as well as the idea of “chosenness” being incompatible with the democratic ideal. That leaves Jews waiting for a messiah of resurrection and redemption, as the Jewish medievalists taught, or no messiah at all.

Intellectual honesty demands that Christians learn the texts of their “older brothers” while Jews consider the Christ in relation to the text as well as subsequent events in Jerusalem, if only to reject him fairly. Certainly, honest inquiry is to be preferred to two millennia of summary dismissal, especially as he is the one Jew who perfectly fulfills the prophetic texts “objectively.” What if he is who he said?

Finally, isn't it time to end the charge of deicide against Jews and of genocide against Gentiles? After all, our common patriarch, Abraham, was neither Jew nor Gentile. In fact, he was from Iraq. How's that for location?

JOSEPH M. MAUCERI, M.D. Kingston, New York

Wide-Eyed Youth

Last Sunday I took my youth group and 50 members of my two Byzantine Catholic parishes to see The Passion of the Christ. After the movie we returned to our St. Michael Church for Sunday evening vespers and a discussion of this monumental movie. Many parishioners were quite overwhelmed by the graphic truth portrayed in the movie. The teens were quite eager to discuss the reality of what Christ did for us. Many were brought to tears by the movie and again recounted the experience. Especially poignant was the clear tie shown in this movie between the sacrifice on Calvary and the sacrifice of the holy Eucharist.

I hope Mel Gibson and others will continue to work on bringing other aspects of the life of Christ and others in the Bible to life on the screen.

May God bless their work.

VERY REV. PROTOPRESBYTER BRYAN R. EYMAN, D. MIN.

Lake County, Ohio Pastor, Byzantine Catholic Churches

Get the Kill Pills Straight

The news brief “Dad: Kill the ‘Morning-After’ Pill” (ProLife Victories, March 14-20) identifies RU-486 as synonymous with the morning-after pill. Both are abortive, but the two are not the same.

To equate the “morning-after pill” (taken in case a woman might be pregnant) with RU-486 (a two-drug regimen chemically aborting the baby of a woman who knows she's pregnant) validates pro-abortion supporters' statements that the “pro-lifers don't know what they're talking about.” We in the pro-life field are knowledgeable and deserve to be regarded as such.

To clarify: The morning-after pill does just what its nickname implies. RU-486, the two-drug regimen, kills the baby as well as injuring or causing the death of the mother. The first drug (mifepristone) is distributed by Danco. Both Danco and the FDA were forced to write letters to physicians who had ordered the drug after earlier deaths and serious complications. Searle, the maker of the second drug (misoprostol), firmly disavows abortion as a legitimate use for its drug and has written stern warnings to physicians about the drug's off-label use to induce abortions.

RITA OTT Downers Grove, Illinois

Enmity Enfleshed

Thank you for your insightful expositions on The Passion of the Christ in your four-part “Register's Guide to The Passion of the Christ.”

I just wanted to offer an additional insight. The scene during the scourging — in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is juxtaposed with Satan — has been cited in most Catholic commentaries that I've read as an allusion to Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you (the Serpent/Satan) and the woman.”

The rest of the verse continues: “and [enmity] between your offspring and hers.”

Of course, Catholic teaching has always been that the seed of Satan is sin, and that of “the woman” is Jesus. In pondering the meaning of the strange scene, in which Satan holds a gruesome “child” who laughs mockingly at Jesus, I concluded that (in addition to being a mockery of the Child Jesus, Incarnate) the child represents the seed or offspring of Satan: sin.

Just as the movie dramatically portrays the enmity between Satan and Mary, it also portrays the enmity between the Son of God and sin, by means of an intense visual exchange between the incarnational forms of the two.

Perhaps the above interpretation was not intended by the makers of the movie, but I think that it lends insight into Judas' flight from the ghastly children, who could be seen as visual portrayals of sin. It was not merely Satan (or other demons) who drove Judas to despair and self-destruction, but the torment of his own sinfulness.

ANNE SCHMIESING

Grand Rapids, Michigan