Pick up your cross and walk… No, wait, that was pick up your mat – a miracle cure that Jesus used to instruct his listeners in what is harder – healing a person or forgiving their sins. (Forgiveness being a central theme in the Gospels.)

Mark 2:3 ff. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?

So, it’s Ash Wednesday and while I prepare to take up my cross for the day and go see that movie I’m reflecting on the power of movies. Easier to see a movie about the Passion of Christ, I imagine, than the daily living of what it taught us.

We are all, as Gibson keeps saying, culpable for the murder of Christ. Most Christians acknowledge this. What the Passion really offers is a glimpse into our culpability for ALL murders. Each victim of murder innocent as Jesus was. Did Jesus deserve to have his life so violently ended? Does anyone? If Jesus’ death showed anything (and it showed plenty,) it showed most clearly how humans who sacrifice other humans for the sake of the community’s welfare are certainly misguided. “Better that one should die for the many?”

Each time we put the death penalty into play, each time we scapegoat one villian or another, even in our day to day lives – those who disagree with us, those who live differently, those who are different, painful to be around, just plain annoying – each of these times we are re-enacting the sacrifice of Christ. While perhaps technically guilty, the victims are still innocent, still children of the same God, still children.

And we never saw that before Jesus. I hope those who see the movie come away seeing it even more clearly now. I’ll let you know how it goes for me. You can see for yourself on KRON 4 at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

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