I Can’t Bear to Watch

Every Good Friday, I watch The Passion. I reserve watching this movie for once a year. This is an amazing movie, but I do not watch it more to ensure that it always has the impact that it first did. This movie is violent, emotional, and grueling. So was the Crucifixion. I can’t bear to watch at parts. When Jesus is being scourged, when He is being mocked with the Crown of Thorns, and especially when He is nailed to the Cross, my face is in my hands.

We can talk theologically, we can attempt to discern how the economy of salvation works, but if we lose sight of the real human aspect of the Passion, we lose sight of Christ. Christ’s humanity, from His birth to His death, is a very real aspect of our connection to Him. When Our Blessed Mother meets Him along the way, she sees Him fall and flashes back to when Jesus was a child. She comforted Jesus as a child when He fell, and she rushes to His aid again. This maternal connection is another pathway in for us. When Peter, or even Judas, catches Jesus’ eye and feels the pain of letting Him down – through the connection of friendship, love, and respect they shared – we can see the passion in another way in as well. When we’ve let someone we love down, we glimpse that feeling.

When we see the pain, we know it is real. The Crucifixion is not some story. It is not an allegory of metaphor for the love of God. It is the love of God that happened that day. This is why the Mass is a re-presentation, a re-display, a re-happening, of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. It is so big, so enduring, so beyond what any one of us could do or endure, that it is almost unbearable to witness. Remember: Jesus, as God, could have stopped everything and anything at any moment. If the pain got to Him, if the sacrifice was too great, He could have simply thought it, and the entire city could have been leveled or vaporized. He went through this unbearable, humiliating, and reprehensible death for us, not Himself. “No one takes my life, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18) His innocent blood is so holy, so innocent, so perfect, that its violent taking releases us from the punishment we so rightly deserve.

In our modern culture, we have become so desensitized to violence through movies, TV, video games, even the news. Things that were at one time horrific do not always have the same affect on us. Let us not for get the incredible sacrifice of Jesus. His Holy death should affect you, shake you to your core. Then, on Easter morning, you can smile much larger as you realize that death could not stop His love for us. When you hear, “He is Risen,” you can truly shout happily in return, “He is Risen indeed!”

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