Do we suffer on the Cross of Vigilance? How does Mel
Gibson's movie play to the skeptic? Does it create more
acceptance or rejection to a Higher Power? How can
we learn to be more Vigilant from this movie?
Monday, March 1,
2004—Ground Zero Plus 901
Suffering On The Cross Of Vigilance
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 1, 2004 -- Yesterday my wife and I
went to see Mel Gibson's move, The Passion. Part of
me didn't want to go. The other part couldn't wait.
Good and Evil
faced off in the Garden of Gethsemane
Good and Evil faced off like it was the O.K. Corral from the first
scene to the last. In the "garden" the "good
guy"--Jesus--writhed in agony over the "temptations" of "evil" while
Just when you were
wondering if Jesus was a whining wimpy ball of human sobbing flesh or
not, He set the tone of the movie by crunching his jaw like Kirk
Douglas and stomping the evil serpent's head under the heel of his
sandal with a resounding, squishing thud.
garden scene was, to me, far more powerful than the bloody beatings
given Him by the Romans. Jesus was suffering
self-inflicted Emotional Flagellation. He was beating
himself, wrestling with his internal demons. It was He
against the Beast of Terror, alone, in the misty night, on the eve of
his death--just He and Evil, Vigilance versus Terrorism.
alone against the Beast of Terror
It wasn't a pretty sight. For anyone who has wrestled with his
or her demons, who has felt the emptiness of their soul and the
pythonic grip of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency coil about their
chest and squeeze out the breath so that only short gulps of air
sustain consciousness, the scene will suck you out of your chair.
It will mind meld you with Jesus--alone, disoriented, fighting to not
be fully ingested by the voracious Beast who slithers about, consuming
bits and pieces of His tattered soul.
Jesus set the
tone of the movie by crushing the head of the serpent
I related. There was a stroke of masterfulness in
launching the first scenes of the movie from an Emotional Suffering
pad. I rode the rocket, as though it were made just to
thrust me into a fourth dimension of emotions, stripping me of my
defenses. My emotional chemistry was raw and virginal to
the movie's desire to take me on a personal journey through the last
twelve hours of Christ's life, whether I was a believer or not.
I am a skeptic by nature.
I am the Doubting Thomas who had to stick his fist into the holes made
by Roman Swords before he would believe Jesus rose from the dead.
I don't think that makes me bad, just cautious.
But after the opening scene, my doubts were set aside.
Whatever magic was involved to uncloak those who challenged the
authenticity of the "human" side of Jesus flourished. I
became part of the screen, a molecule of participation in all the
events that were about to unfold.
To me, the movie was about Terrorism versus Vigilance. It was
about the battle we face each day against our Fears, Intimidations and
Complacencies. It was about the other side, too. The
Courage, Conviction and Right Actions necessary to insure the safety
of the Children's Children's Children.
I saw similar
torture in Vietnam
When the beating
scenes unfolded, I grabbed my theatre seat. I had been
witness to similar torture scenes in Vietnam, where human beings were
transformed into bloody stumps of ragged flesh by "beating sticks."
A sickness prevailed at such events, a dead horror that froze
humanity's sense of right, suspending it as though evil had a way to
capture the worst in human nature and hold it high like a chalice
offering at Mass, only instead of resurrection inside, damnation
filled the cup.
the pain and death of
Viet Nam and Nine Eleven enabled me to bear witness to the
inhumanity in The Passion
I clutched my seat even harder as I saw the faces of Vietnamese
prisoners instead of the man playing Jesus Christ.
My mind raced forward to Ground Zero, September 11, 2001, when I was
standing beneath the Twin Towers looking up, watching human beings
leaping to their deaths as the fire raged like Hell hovering 90
stories high. There was no humanity that day as the
moment of death pushed closer. There was only a deafening
silence and the cackle of the fires of Hell, not dissimilar to the
laughing and jesting of the torturers who lashed Jesus' body, tearing
His flesh but not his soul.
Eleven I saw people jumping hand-in-hand from the Twin Towers.
They had joined hands as a symbol of their souls' strengths knowing
full well their bodies would soon be gone. In The
Passion I viewed Simon of Cyrene (whom the Romans forced to help
Jesus) and Jesus arm in arm on the back of the blood splattered cross.
Jesus struggled arm in arm to carry the heavy cross
recalled the defiance of a beautiful Vietnamese woman as she was
tortured. No matter how brutally she was struck, or how
many bones were broken, she sustained her defiance until, with little
left unbroken or unbeaten about her, she was lowered from the
crossbeam, made to kneel in a bloody lump, and shot in the back of the
saw suffering in the movie not as a means by which Terrorism wins over
the weak, but as tool of strength and a renewal of human dignity.
Those who cower in the face of Terrorism serve its thirst.
Terrorism is about creating Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
The movie I saw yesterday was about Courage, Conviction and Right
Actions that benefit future generations. It was about standing
up for what is right in the face of those who wrong you.
I learned from
The Passion that Vigilance is about suffering
Vigilance, I learned from the movie, is about suffering.
It is about the passion one must have to do the right thing no matter
how hard it is to either the flesh or the spirit.
And each person must decide what those "right things" are, but it
doesn't merit too much thinking to arrive at them.
They are the selfless things.
If you think the War on Terrorism is over, you might find it
interesting to go see Mel Gibson's The Passion. If
Terrorism is about our battles with the Beast of Terror inside us as
well as outside, then the War on Terrorism has only just begun.
Instead of taking popcorn with you, you might carry some Pledges of
Vigilance in your pocket or purse when you see the movie. You
can hold onto them tightly, as reassurance you have the power to stave
off evil no matter what its attempts to conquer you, your children,
your loved ones.
Feb 29--900 Days From
Ground Zero Terrorism vs. Vigilance