I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
I’ve written, in a previous post, about how The Passion of the Christ affected me. I think it is an important movie, but I haven’t been able to re-watch it in nine years. I am a somewhat hardened old coot, but Gibson’ graphic depiction crushes me. Not because it is too brutal. Oh, no; if anything, I would guess that Gibson was spot-on. Given mankind’s capacity to devise methods to create pain, I’d say that it was probably understating what Jesus experienced.
For me, the problem is knowing that it was me who placed Him there. We hate anything that makes us confront our fallen nature. We believe in evil, but we know that it resides in others, not us. I once read that it was Thoreau who said, “I know greater monster of sin than myself.” I can find no proof that he said it, but it is true, nevertheless. Watching Gibson’s Passion makes me confront my sin, up close and personal.
If this seems problematic to you, something that seems more than slightly off-kilter, I would ask you to read Ursula LeGuin’s award-winning short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” While only six pages long, it is powerful. Here are two paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry for this short story:
Everything about Omelas is so abundantly pleasing that the narrator decides the reader is not yet truly convinced of its existence and so elaborates upon one final element of the city: its one atrocity. The city’s constant state of serenity and splendor requires that a single unfortunate child be kept in perpetual filth, darkness, and misery.
Once citizens are old enough to know the truth, most, though initially shocked and disgusted, are ultimately able to come to terms with the fact and resolve to live their lives in such a manner as to make the suffering of the unfortunate child worthwhile. However, a few citizens, young and old, silently walk away from the city, and no one knows where they go. The story ends with “The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.”
These two words in the Creed, “was crucified,” have the same import as LeGuin’s conception of a Utopia powered by the torture of a child. Jesus was crucified. Because of you, and because of me. Every time I recite the Creed, I am confessing my sin, and His sacrifice for me.
Those who walk from Omelas are the ones who turn from living with that burden. But for us, for God, the burden was placed on Jesus. Without His willing sacrifice, without His act, there would nothing that would reconcile man to God.