What Jim Caviezel suffered to make 'The Passion of the Christ': The cost and grace of the cross

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What Jim Caviezel suffered to make ‘The Passion of the Christ’: The cost and grace of the cross

April 10, 2020 -

Jim Caviezel portrayed Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. His depictions of Jesus’ suffering and death were the most realistic I have ever seen in a film.

But we didn’t know just how realistic they were until the actor gave an interview recently in which he described the injuries he experienced during the filming.

Caviezel carried a heavy wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City on his way to Calvary. When he fell as Jesus did, the cross landed on top of him. He told reporters, “As I went down, the cross . . . it actually struck my head and buried my head in the sand. And I bit through my tongue. Now, in the tape, you’ll see streams of blood coming down from my lip. That’s actually my own blood.”

The AC joint in his shoulder was also torn, so carrying the cross was especially painful for him. And in another scene, the portrayal of the scourging of Jesus by Roman soldiers, he was accidentally struck.

“I had a fourteen-inch gash right on my back,” he said. “I walked out of the take and I fell down. But it’s an extraordinary experience because I got hit and it froze my diaphragm, which was like getting . . . the wind knocked out of you.”

The cost and grace of the cross

Irenaeus, speaking of the tree in the Garden of Eden and the tree on which Jesus died, said: “Through a tree we were made debtors to God; so through a tree we have our debt canceled.”

But the cost of that cancelation is beyond our imagining. And the fact that we are loved just as much today as on the first Good Friday is astounding (cf. Romans 5:8).

Henri Nouwen: “The mystery of God’s love is not that our pain is taken away, but that God first wants to share that pain with us. Out of this divine solidarity comes new life. . . . The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pain and participates in the fullness of the human struggle.”

Now this God invites us to experience his Good Friday grace and to share it with those who need it as much as we do.

When Caviezel was asked to explain the enduring popularity of The Passion of the Christ, he replied, “It’s a film that when you watch it, it asks you a big question, ‘Hey, where are you going to go? What character are you playing in the Bible?'”

Commenting on the state of the movie industry, he said, “these films can’t be made now. The films they make are Marvel Comics movies. You’ll see Superman. You won’t see Jesus.”

Then he added, “I got to play the greatest superhero there ever was.”

Will you make time to see Jesus today?

Who will see him in you?

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