Lent is the season of spiritual preparation before Easter. During the six weeks of prayerful self-examination, we usually commit ourselves to fasting from a favorite delicacy or a bad habit. Some of us also take up a spiritual discipline, like reading the Word of God or spending more time in prayer to draw us nearer to God. Besides these, the strict observers would, also, try to abstain from eating meat on these days. The goal of all these Spiritual disciplining is to strengthen our faith in God and to develop a deeper relationship with God.
If this preparation happens only as an annual ritual, at a peripheral level, are we really benefiting from it? Or, is that what God really wants us to do?
All who have seen Mel Gibson’s film ‘The Passion of the Christ’ would remember the moment of Jesus’ trial before Pilate when the crowd chose to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. The bruised, bloody, and broken face of Jesus radiates peace and tranquility, while only negativity and arrogance fume out of the blatant face of Barabbas, a convicted murderer. When Barabbas gets freed from his bonds, before descending the stairs to the crowd, his haughty eyes meet with the merciful eyes of Jesus. The serene, yet powerful divine gaze from ‘The Innocent Victim’ pierced his heart!
The serene, yet powerful divine gaze from ‘The Innocent ‘Victim’ pierced his heart!
According to Pietro Sarubbi, who played the role of Barabbas, Mel Gibson had told him to avoid meeting Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus, until the very scene in which they were to appear together. This was to create that original look of someone seeing Jesus for the very first time. Sarubbi did as Gibson had told him. When Sarubbi met with Jim Caviezal’s eyes, he felt a sudden surge of inexplicable emotions. At that moment he felt as if he saw Jesus Himself! Indeed, it led to his conversion!!
At that moment he felt as if he saw Jesus Himself! Indeed, it led to his conversion!!
“The Passion” was a divine experience for Sarubbi. Ever since, he states that he always does everything possible as if those divine eyes are following him. Those same eyes follow us every day in our lives as a comforter, guardian, protector and friend whom we can rely on every moment. Like Sarubbi who lived in the awareness of those divine eyes, do we do everything we can for those eyes to continue to be important for us?
Let’s reflect on our attitudes and actions. More than thinking about Lent as a time to abstain from some favorite food or a bad habit, let us consider it as an opportunity to encounter Jesus in our daily lives. Let us start anew to be able to see the eyes of Jesus following us in every action we do, and share the same divine experience which Sarubbi had.