Note: Spoilers below.
On Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, Leland, Brenden, Colin, Brother Paul Nguyen and I went to see “Risen.” This film follows a Roman tribune, Clavius, as he hunts for the missing body of Jesus after a few days after his burial. During his investigation, he would come to discover the stunning truth of the Resurrection. The writing and the acting were excellent. The movie would pair nicely with “The Passion of the Christ.”
Here are five observations on the movie:
- Crucifixion in a pit: Unlike other film portrayals on a hilltop, the crucifixion occurs in a pit. Recently, I learned in my Scripture class that the Place of the Skull was an unusable rock shaped in a skull in a quarry near Jerusalem. Jesus could’ve been crucified on it or beside it. Jesus assumes our sins in a pit of death and despair. Colin commented that Jesus on the cross had an authentic death stare. I noticed a drop of blood or a cut below his eye as if it were a tear.
- Fools for Christ: Clavius had Mary Magdalene and the apostle Bartholomew in custody, the two people with knowledge about Jesus and the Resurrection. But they behaved in unusual ways despite threats. Eventually, Clavius released them without any info from them. A few of the guys had commented that Bartholomew acted too silly. But maybe he and Magdalene exhibited what St. Paul later described in his first letter to the Corinthians. “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” (1 Corinthians 4:10).
- Followers of Christ: Clavius pestered Peter with questions as the disciplines headed to Galilee. Peter’s consistent answer was “I don’t know.” “We’re followers,” he later said. “Jesus leads. We follow.” The Church has maintained that model for 2,000 years.
- Spiritual direction: Brother Paul saw a touch of Ignatian spirituality and spiritual direction when Clavius talked to Jesus. Clavius says, “I don’t know what to say.” Jesus replies: “What is in your heart? What are you afraid of?” Those two questions are common in spiritual direction.
- Lesson on homilies: At the end of the movie, John talks about God’s love to small crowd. Another discipline complimented him. “Thanks,” he said. “Maybe I’ll use it again.” A good homily could be used again for different circumstances.