Today is a special day, not only for Christians but for anyone wishing to take stock of their lives. Ash Wednesday inaugurates the season of Lent, a time for introspection and redirection. Considering the current drift of our nation, especially in terms of morality, a drastic redirection is devoutly to be wished. Modern Liberalism has convinced many that satisfying physical needs and living in "harmony" with others is all that is necessary for a rewarding life. But this secular philosophy has not only failed us but helped create a society as dissolute as Berlin in the 1920s. Consequently, restoring some semblance of virtue to our perverse society is a tall order.
However, an encouraging sign is the enthusiasm exhibited for today’s premiere of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ. I’m not naïve enough to think that one film will be the salvation of our society. And I concede that there are some who might not need a religious context in order to be virtuous. But Gibson’s film will force many of us to confront the unpleasant but essential crucifixion of Jesus. Courageously, Mr. Gibson persevered against a concerted campaign to prevent us from seeing the film.
Also, this film might create a fuller understanding of what the martyrdom of Jesus was all about. What it "was all about" cannot be explained by logical analysis nor reasoned dissertation. Similarly, verbal instruction cannot teach someone how to ride a bicycle. Their first attempts usually result in falling down. But finally, they "get it." Likewise, the gift offered by the sacrificial act of Jesus has to be experienced.