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"The Passion" and the Spirits of Lesser Men: A pastoral reflection

Fr. George N. Patides

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They said that Mel Gibson's "Passion" was anti-Semitic, but I didn't see it. I didn't see an anti-Roman bias either and there were a lot of Roman characters too. What you see instead is a dark side of people, where the malice of gossip and political subterfuge lead to murder.

Every nationality been tainted by lesser men. Albert Einstein said, "Great spirits have often been violently encumbered by mediocre minds." That happened in a way with Jesus Christ. It continues today.

As a former pastor in the Greek Orthodox Church, I have seen how this dark side manifests itself through the casual assassination of character by rival groups. I have also seen church leaders look the other way, especially if a politically or financially powerful group is the assassin. These groups can be small but their effects can be painful and widespread. I confess that I have also compromised my priesthood and personal character by doing the same thing or by looking the other way.

Margaret Thatcher said, "Consensus sometimes means an absence of leadership." Put differently, violence is often advanced by a mob mentality. We still struggle with the same human shortcomings that we see in the film. No matter what our position in society might be, or whether we attend a church, synagogue, or temple, a heinous sin is the malice of gossip and political subterfuge. And this behavior continues when the perpetrators are not held accountable.

Perhaps the negative reaction to this film comes from the reminder that we accountable to God. The lesson is to temper our impulses and reference every thought and action to God. We are accountable to Him. Maybe the occurrences of malice and gossip and the violence that arises from them can be less.

Notice that the title of the film says "the Christ," not just "Christ." The extra "the" is important. It proclaims "He is the Messiah, He is God". The movie in vivid and even violent ways illustrates how this Messiah and God knows the pain of the unjust actions of lesser men yet still loves and forgives them.

George N. Patides has a BA in Philosophy, and a Masters in Theology/Divinity studies. He is a retired Greek Orthodox Church priest living in the Tampa Bay area. Mail can be sent to 13800 Park Blvd., Seminole, FL 33776.

Copyright 2004 George N. Patides.

Posted: 12/27/04



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