The box-office success of the movie “The Passion of the Christ” is history. Yet the debates, questions, and hype around this movie have generated a storm of Pentecostal tongues of fire that speak different messages to each and every one of us who have seen the movie or read the movie reviews .
Once we go beyond the theological answers given by Father Romanus Cessario on “How the Passion Works”, Mel Gibson’s movie is really an invitation to enter into meditation of Jesus’ Passion or different prayers of contemplation. With proper practice, prayer of contemplation can lead to private revelation which may be a form of communication between an individual and God, or “to bring the intellect to rest in God who is Truth, and to inflame the will to love God who is Good”. This is well explained in the article of “The Passion of the Christ and Anne Catherine Emmerich and Mary of Agreda”.
In other words, can we experience Jesus’ passions in the different scenes? Do we see ourselves in Jesus’ sufferings and his environments?
In the opening scene of the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was sweating blood over his desolation when he was all alone and tempted by the devil. The commitment to take on all the sins of the human world generations before and after had removed Jesus from communion with God temporarily and totally. It was like Jesus himself turning away from God and the effect was so huge that Jesus felt like he was abandoned by God. Nonetheless, it was his love for men and his obedience and trust in Abba that finally enabled him to stand up and stomped on the serpent’s head.
A priest who is a counselor points out that when we commit to our call of duties out of obligation even though we may not have any feeling of love, we are accepting our cup as “Your WILL be done and not mine”. We are doing it out of spiritual love in a higher order. Yes, we may be sweating blood in our own garden as described in the article Garden Agony by Fr. Ron Rolheiser.
Jesus asked his apostles disciples to stay awake and keep him company while he was in prayer over his agony and desolation. But his disciples just fell asleep.
How many times do we not listen to the Jesus in our midst when they reach out to us for companionship during their struggles and agony? Instead we may have fallen asleep over our inebriation with earthly desires and pre-occupation with day to day chores.
In the scene where Simon of Cyrene was coerced by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry his cross, Simon said that he did not know Jesus and was reluctant to get involved. However, Simon began to feel for Jesus after a while and was even willing to stand up for Jesus before the Roman soldiers.
How many times are we reluctant to help those who have fallen because it is none of our business? It is simply patronizing to tell people in desolation to carry their own cross and follow Jesus as if it is the only virtue or the only way to practice their faith. On the other hand, we would encourage a selfless spiritual growth if people in desolation can help each others to carry their crosses in spite of individual difficulties and sufferings.
Magdalena, the woman who followed Jesus to Mount Calvary with Mary, saw herself as the adulterous woman in a flashback. She was able to stand up on her own and started to follow Jesus when Jesus forgave her and did not pass judgment on her. There was no condition required for her to turn back and to follow Jesus.
A nun in retreat had a similar vision in her prayers of contemplation. In her first prayer scene, the nun was herself the adulterous woman kneeling with her head down on the ground before Jesus. When Jesus asked her to get up, she was holding a stone in her hands.
In her second encounter in the same prayer scene, when Jesus asked her to get up and open her hands, she had diamonds in her hands.
What is Jesus telling the nun ( us ) in these scenes of prayer?
The retreat director explains that with the willingness of God, He could turn our sinfulness ( incompleteness ) into diamonds.
When Mel Gibson became addicted to alcohol over 13 years ago during the prime of his career, he meditated on Jesus’ sufferings and His Passion to help him recover. Since then he felt compelled to tell the story of Jesus’ Passion in a movie. God has turned Mel’s incompleteness then into diamonds for the world to see and appreciate.
However, most of us are average. We are incomplete by weaknesses in our human nature. What can we possibly do to produce diamonds for others to appreciate?
This brings to mind the game of “Two people 3 legs” run. Two people are handicapped ( incomplete ) in being bounded together on one leg and both have to rely on each other to “limp” along the common 3rd leg in order to reach destination.
When I ( each of us individually and all of us collectively ) am being incomplete and feeling down in desolation ( away from God and away from people ), will any one of you be compassionate enough to come forward and “limp along” with me in our journey home to Abba and join in the feast of the Prodigal Father?
In doing so, we are giving each other the diamonds of hope and joy in our spiritual journey together. This is basically the motto of our Spiritual Network. The challenge is always open to each and every one of us.
The Spiritual Express Editorial Team
p.s. It has been 4 years since the first issue of Spiritual Express. During this period of time we have to struggle at times to look for thoughtful and appropriate articles that can be grouped into a common theme. This is our added value in a naïve and laymen way. We don’t always succeed and we can only do our best in given situations. Sometimes we are wondering if we should continue or not. May be our readers out there can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your feedback and comment. Thank you.
城市人生活匆忙, 人際關係冷漠疏離, 莫不關心, 又或互相針對。
冷漠的人際關係往往是從人們不經意的說三道四, 評頭論足, 以問責式口吻妄下一些道德判斷而產生。為找到別人的私隱或短處令自己不安的心稍作平復。旁人感到人言可畏, 避免受到瓜田之嫌, 明哲保身。受到冷漠對待的人 遭到無理批判, 名聲受損, 氣憤填膺, 四處哭訴, 可惜大家已戴上有色眼鏡, 旁觀者避免節外生枝, 只好瞎扯做人應以和為貴, 更苦口婆心相勸要學習控制個人情緒。
委屈受不到平反, 卻無辜捲入人事糾紛, 情緒更要懂得隱藏。無形壓力強逼人麻木地學會世故, 雙重標準。情緒意欲無法正確地疏導, 面容也被擠壓扭曲。自憐無需跟別人一般見識, 心腸卻漸漸疆硬起來, 漠視身邊人士的需要, 待人接物也墮進了冷漠的苦網之中。
回想耶穌基督的一生,也多次遇上類似遭遇。衪曾被試探、被謀算、被出賣、被群衆/位高者等審判、被遺棄、被高舉…… 衪的回應也因著不同背景的人而有所不同; 實際卻正正解開了各人心中的疑慮和揣測。
耶穌基督在苦路上不斷受到群衆及羅馬兵士種種的侮辱, 為的是要全人類因衪十字架上的犧牲, 來打通人與天主之間的隔膜。衪不支跌倒, 再站起, 再緊緊的背負著十字架。衪的決心震撼了不少冷漠的心。衪忍辱負重使我們再可以與主溝通。衪要求我們做的是要全心、全靈、全意愛天主。在人神關係間產生愛的交流, 與主契合。
衪也要求我們愛人如己, 在人際關係中實踐基督真情。衪說我們每人都要背負著自己的十字架, 暗示我們在溝通過程中也將會受到試探、謀算、出賣、遺棄、群衆論斷等考驗。即使我們不支跌倒, 只要站起來, 堅持信心, 保持 表裡一致 , 打破對人性的否定, 接納彼此各有不同, 並懷著寬恕包容的心待人, 自然會感受到聖神的火燄融化疆硬的心, 並讓愛的暖流傳至身邊的人。基督的言行帶領著我們如何待人和生命的方向, 祂來到這個世界, 便是要建立天國在人間。我們有否感受到祂的真情而有所回應呢?
靈修速遞出版至今已四年了。編輯組渴望收集各讀者不同的意見或主題, 務求不斷革新改進。讀者回應請電郵ccpesn@catholic.org 多謝合作。