Crimes of ‘Passion’

We should be thankful for our tears. They prepare us for a clearer vision of God… and many times, of ourselves.

In Norway, Johnny Olsen, 41, confessed to two decade-old bombings after watching Gibson’s depiction of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ. “The trigger that made him go to police and confess was that movie,” his lawyer, Fridtjof Feydt, told Reuters Agency.

Near Houston, Dan Leach, 21, confessed to killing his girlfriend after her death had been ruled a suicide, saying he had been moved by his experience viewing “The Passion.” “He tried his best not to think about the murder, and just made an effort to get on with his life” the officer said. The movie “pricked his heart”.

In Florida, James Anderson, 53, a fugitive from a bank robbery two years ago, turned himself in to police after watching Gibson’s film. A sheriff’s detective asked Anderson why he came clean after all this time. “He said, ‘I saw ‘The Passion’ and that made my decision,'” said sheriff’s office spokesman. And he urged the detective to see the movie too!

In Mesa Arizona, Turner Lee Bingham, 20, walked up to police at the scene of a burglary and confessed to the break-in, as well as five or six others. “Mel Gibson movie . . . that was the motive for turning myself in.” “It is a first,” Mesa police detective Ruben Quesada admitted.

Amid these reports, a new documentary named ‘Changed Lives: Miracles of Passion’, is in the works. Executive Producer Jody Eldred is quoted as saying, “We have gone to websites where we found in excess of 70,000 stories about how people were touched by this film, so we have plenty to choose from.”

On the other side of the spectrum, CNN reported how a couple in Statesboro, Georgia got into a dispute over a theological point after watching “The Passion of the Christ” and were arrested when the argument turned violent. “Really, it was kind of a pitiful thing, to go to a movie like that and fight about it. I think they missed the point,” said Gene McDaniel, chief sheriff’s deputy. They were released on the payment of a $1000 bail.

“It was the dumbest thing we’ve ever done,” Melissa Davidson, 33, said afterwards.

After the movie, what?

Mel Gibson’s aim with “The Passion of the Christ” was “to have a profound effect on people, to change them”. For some, obviously, this movie was a religious experience. “I found it very sad, very moving – a great film. It makes you think a lot,” said an enthusiastic Michael Julia, a Roman Catholic, as he left a Boston theater.

It managed to make some think and talk. It was a … knock at the door.

If anyone has the right to barge in our hearts, it is definitely Him. But He doesn’t. He just taps gently. “Behold I stand at the door and knock” Revelation tells us (3, 20). He waits patiently for our invitation so that He can cross the threshold.

But as the days pass by, the movie is forgotten. The door remains closed. We grow older and ‘wiser’. The emotions we felt pass away. The meals, the dishes, the laundry, the mortgage conspire to make us insensitive of all that this may have meant. Instead of growing in God consciousness, we keep alienating ourselves.

Another opportunity lost. A pity! Because Jesus Christ can make a difference. He can blaze our lives into joy.

One of the reviews of this movie said that while Mel Gibson does not himself appear in the film, his hands do! His hands are pictured driving the nails into the flesh of Jesus. And he did this to express his own conviction that his sinfulness also was responsible for the crucifixion.

Acknowledging our sins and their serious consequences is the first step towards real joy.

As Bishop Edward Cullen of Allentown Pa wrote in the diocesan newspaper, “Did the Romans crucify Jesus? Of course they did. Did the leaders of the Jews act so as to bring this about? Of course they did. But does that tell me who is to ‘blame’? No, it does not.”

“What caused the death of Jesus was sin. He died because He was completely holy, completely dedicated to doing the will of the Father, completely devoted to revealing and speaking and acting out the truth.”

He marked a way … not only for us to admire but for us to follow!

“Can I say with certainty who is responsible for death of Jesus? Of course I can. All I need do is stand in front of a mirror, look directly into it and know without doubt that I am staring directly into the eyes of the one who crucified Jesus.”

I did it!

And yet, believe or not, He still loves me! He still loves me! He still loves me. Yes, He is still fond of me.

Amazing, isn’t it?


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.