We’ve just heard the story of Jesus’ torturous and violent death as told by St John. We’ve been listening to it year after year on each Good Friday. The same story told in the same way and heard many times can make us less perceptive or sensitive to it. Listening to this long story while standing up can be painful enough. Moreover, there’s no shortage of harrowing stories of injustice, torture and killing that people suffer in our times. Shouldn’t we be more interested in easing those pains rather than brooding over the story from the very distant past?
Twelve years ago the film ‘The Passion’ made by Mel Gibson depicted Jesus’ ordeal in such an extremely gory way that made watching it extremely hard. I’m not going to argue whether the tortures suffered by Jesus were as shown in the film – quite likely they were. However, the film creators missed the point of Jesus’ passion. It wasn’t elaborate tortures nor gallons of blood that mattered. It was Jesus’ attitude that mattered, and still matters.
Jesus’ ordeal mirrors the cruelty, injustice, betrayal, pettiness, disdain and mindlessness, and many other unpleasant attitudes that we are capable of. In a spiritual sense, Jesus intentionally accepted and took upon himself all those shortcomings of ours. In his acceptance Jesus broke the vicious circle of hatred and revenge, as he didn’t respond with violence against violence. So, when we read and listen to the story of Jesus’ ordeal we do this not seeking gore, but looking for answers to our own everyday problems. There we can learn how to deal with betrayal, undeserved punishment, unjustified accusations or malicious slander… The list is very long indeed. The passion of Jesus can change and shape our attitudes towards adversities, to make sense of them and to make the best out of them.