The Pasion of The Christ

The Following Letter is from a friend and classmate of mine in Rome. He is a smart and faithful man and I respect and trust his judgment so I asked permission to pass this on to you and he agreed:

Dear Friends and Family,

This past Friday night the seminarians and priests of the North American College
(where I live, as most of you know) were treated to a private screening of a
rough copy of Mel Gibson’s new movie “The Passion of Christ”. As I’m
sure most of you know, the movie covers the last hours of Jesus’ life, from His
agony in the Garden of Gethsemane until his death on the cross, and as I’m sure
most of you know as well, the movie has been a great source of controversy due
to claims of anti-semitism.

So, how do you describe the movie? Steve Mceveety, the producer of the movie,
said that many people have said that you don’t “watch” it but
“experience” it. I think that’s a pretty accurate way to put it.
This is not the type of film that you sit down with popcorn and Junior Mints to
watch. More than anything else it’s a guided meditation of the Passion and
Death of Jesus, where you’re able to see into the minds of many of those
involved – Jesus, Mary, Judas, Pilate, Mary Magdalen…and to become a
participant in the events yourself in a very prayerful way. Mel Gibson really
did a masterful job using flashback imagery as well, connecting various parts
of the life of Christ to the events surrounding his death. The Eucharistic
connections are profound, with many flashbacks to the Last Supper during the
crucifixion itself.

As for the charges of anti-semitism – I suppose I’d have to say that the only
people who would leave this movie as anti-semites would be those who were
anti-semites in the first place. The movie does no more (in my opinion) than
portray the Jews and their leaders at the time of Christ in the same way that
the Gospels portray them. To criticize the film on this count, I would say,
would be to criticize the Gospel account of Christ’s Passion and Death. In
fact, at the end of the film, I was perhaps more struck by the animosity of the
Roman soldiers shown toward Christ than I was by that of the chief priests.

I don’t want to overly prolong this email, so I’ll leave my reflections at that.
I thought that the film was absolutely incredible – the clear result of
someone’s prayer and reflection. I expect it to have a profound impact on the
faith lives of many, many Christians in the United States and throughout the
world. Considering the bad press this movie has received from various sources
(including Catholic!), I felt obliged to at least pass along to all of you the
good news about the movie.

If anyone has any questions about it, feel free to write. You’re all in my

God Bless,
Father Tom

It is so hard for me not to be jealous of the good fortune. I really look forward to seeing this film. I am happy for the men of the North American College and even more excited to see the film myself.


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