Jim Caviezel, the actor from Mt Vernon who portrayed Jesus Christ in The Passion, made the following statements in a speech at a FOCUS conference. He talked about the sacrifices he made during his time playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.
“When I was up there on the Cross, I learned that in His suffering was our redemption. Remember the servant is no greater than the master. Each of us must carry our own cross. There is a price for our faith, for our freedoms. I have been literally scourged, hit by the whips, crucified, struck by lightning, yes, open heart surgery — that’s what happens after five and a half months of hypothermia.”
He recounted a moment during the filming of The Passion, when he was wedged under the cross and someone else pulled it the wrong way, causing his shoulder to become dislocated. He said this footage remains in the final cut of the film and commented that had the production taken place in a studio, we might never have seen such an authentic performance. “The suffering made my performance, just as it makes our lives.”
“There was a lot of pain and suffering before the resurrection and your path will be no different. So embrace your cross and race towards your goal. I want you to go out into this pagan world and shamelessly profess your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith. Warriors like St. Paul and St. Luke who risk their names and reputations to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world.”
What a challenge! Christ suffered a lot of pain during his trial and while carrying his cross to Calvary. He suffered even more by his crucifixion. Yet he willingly accepted his Father’s will in the cup of suffering and death to provide salvation for us.
Jim Caviezel said that “Each of us must carry our own cross. There is a price for our faith, for our freedoms”. What crosses will we endure for our faith? Many of us have pain and suffering in our lives, many of us ask “Why?”, “Why me?”, “Why my spouse?”, “Why our child?” or “Why our parent?”
Jim said, “The suffering made my performance, just as it makes our lives.” Jim emphasized that the suffering makes our faith strong. That’s difficult to understand and accept when we are suffering. Jesus endured his Passion and cross to bring us salvation. We too must endure the suffering and pain of this world to gain the eternal life that Jesus died to obtain for us.
Jim Caviezel experienced some of the pain that Jesus experienced in his Passion and Crucifixion. It was not close to the actual pain Jesus felt but it left an impact on Jim that changed his life. Many of us experience severe physical pain in our lives. Others experience emotional and mental anguish which is just as difficult. It’s hard to understand that the pain makes our faith strong when we are living that pain. But we do not walk life’s journey alone. Jesus walks with us, to comforts and encourage us, in our pain.
Jim told the college students at the FOCUS convention: “So embrace your cross and race towards your goal. I want you to go out into this pagan world and shamelessly profess your faith in public. The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith. Warriors like St. Paul and St. Luke who risk their names and reputations to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world.”
I sometimes wonder what the world would be like if I had the zeal for Christ that the early disciples lived. What would happen in the world if each of us lived our lives with the same fervor of St Paul, St Luke, St John or St Peter? Each of them endured suffering in their lifetimes. Peter denied Our Lord three times. Was he weak? Yes, he failed. Are we weak in our suffering? Yes, we fail. Will Jesus forgive us like he forgave Peter? Yes, he will. His love is grater than any force in the universe.
As we pray the Stations of the Cross and venerate the Cross where Jesus died, let us meditate on the suffering that Jesus endured to provide salvation for us. What great love it took to accept his Father’s will and endure such suffering to provide salvation for us. May we commit to forgive others and help someone else in their suffering as Christ forgives us.