: Father Andrew Greeley, Catholic priest and author, takes on Mel Gibson’s Passion in an eloquent column:
‘The Passion of the Christ” is a celebration of the bloody suffering of Jesus, a fundamentalist interpretation by a man who rejects the Vatican Council. It is not, contrary to claims, a literal interpretation of St. John’s Gospel but is based on the ”revelations” of a 19th century mystic. It is a film about torture, legitimated because it is the torture of Jesus. ”Passion” is a glorification of sado-masochism….
Gibson showed his hand in his interview with Diane Sawyer when he said that because the gates of heaven were closed by the sin of our first parents, Jesus had to suffer to open them again. This metaphor, which my generation heard often in grammar school, is a poor adaptation of the teaching of St. Anselm, who proposed that the suffering of Jesus paid the blood price to satisfy God and free us from our sins. Anselm’s theology is not Catholic faith. It has caused a lot of misunderstanding among Catholics who absorbed it in their youth.
One may wonder what kind of God it would be who would demand such a price from his beloved son. Is this the same kind of implacably forgiving God whom Jesus preached about in his life?
We all must suffer; we all must die. Death, no matter how brief or how protracted, is horrible. Do those who die after a prolonged battle with cancer die any less horribly than Jesus? What does his death say to all of us who must die? One will watch ”The Passion of the Christ” in vain for any hint of an answer to that question.
The lesson of Good Friday, properly understood, is that God suffers with us. Like every good parent, he suffers when his children suffer. When Jesus hung on the cross, God (the person was the Second Person of the Trinity) made common cause with the Iraqi peasant shot in the back and tossed into the pit to be consumed by fire. God cannot prevent our sufferings, but he suffers with us.
: I also happened upon an eloquent blog post on Passion by Debra Gallant, the NY Times NJ columnist (and blogger):
One day, when I was a kid, I was walking in my neighborhood in Northern Virginia, and some kid, who I didn