Quiet, somber, and thoughtful. That’s how we all walked out of the movie “The Passion of The Christ”. It was one of those movies that people still talk about, because it moves your spirit, changes your heart, and sticks in your mind. People are still talking about the way that movie changed their lives.
There are few movies that have that effect on their audience these days. Most of the movies we have seen lately have been mildly entertaining, but after we leave the theater I can remember very little about it and am basically unchanged, like the people in today’s gospel: the difference being that these people had seen Jesus conduct great miracles but they didn’t let what they had seen change them, as if they had just watched a mediocre matinee.
Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. MT 11:20
If you were in a burning building and there was a person standing near the door, would you walk up to them calmly and suggest they may want to leave? How effective would that be? No, you would push them out that door, and hard. Why? Because you wanted to save their life.
We don’t focus on Jesus being harsh or unpleasant, but he was scolding these entire towns of people because he knew their souls were in danger and he was warning them. Witnessing the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation was the single hope of generations of people over hundreds of years. But many people who were privy to it watched it like a rerun and returned to business as usual. They didn’t let themselves be converted by what miracles they had witnessed, and they certainly didn’t have a heart of gratitude for what they had seen, or if they did it did not last.
Jesus is trying to push these people out of the burning building. He isn’t being nice because their salvation is at risk. They may be forgiven of their sins through his cross, but there is another part to salvation; to repent and continually fight against the blindness of a luke-warm life built on things that pass away. Do my actions at all resemble these harden-hearts Jesus is desperate to save?
Our lives are full of miracles, big and small. Remembering that my eyes can see, my mind can conceive, my heart can beat, or my lungs can breathe; a few small but imperative miracles we should be mindful of each day. The people I love–my husband, my children, my parents, my sisters and friends–do I remember these wonders of my life and stand in awe of the love I have received? Does it stir my heart to be grateful and therefore repent from the ways I have done less than I could do?
Today, I will stop at look at the crucifix for at least five minutes and meditate on the urgency to repent. I will say an act of contrition afterward, asking for the grace to avoid offending Him again.
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for
having offended you, and I detest
all my sins, because of Your just
punishments, but most of all because
they offend You, my God, who are
all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of
Your grace, to sin no more and to
avoid the near occasion of sin.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori,
MEDITATIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST,
“He who desires”, says St. Bonaventure, “to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus.” And he adds that “there is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation of the sufferings of Jesus Christ.”
St. Augustine also said that a single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water.