Churchill Aguilar .
I FINALLY got my “me” time to watch Mary Magdalene on the big screen. You see, most of my friends are millennials and none of them has interest to watch a religious movie with quite a serious tone in it. I have had attempts to suggest the movie every time we were at a mall but we always ended up watching something else. But I was committed not to miss it for the world. And I was glad I did.
The visual was exquisite but more than that, it probes on the Christian religion and teachings. More than correcting the common misconception of Mary Magdalene being misidentified as a prostitute, the movie presented a strong theology of salvation. On the surface, Mary of Magdala was presented as the protagonist and a key witness to the most important events in Jesus’ life. While she was believed to have been possessed by demons simply because she defied her family and their culture, she was actually presented as the key apostle. But the meat of the story lies on how her inner goodness surfaced as she chose God over her family and as she conducted herself as an apostle.
Interestingly, Judas’ story of why he betrayed Christ also shed light on his experience with the Romans after losing his family, his concept of a messiah as a political leader and how he thought what he did was actually for good, and while it was wrongheaded it was not culpable.
But let me not bore you with the exegesis of the movie. One would need a bit of a background in scripture to appreciate the peculiar theology presented by the writer of the movie especially that it challenged quite a lot of existing teachings of the Church. What I would like to share however is the overarching theology that the movie is anchored on.
First is that the Kingdom of God is not some future thing or some place in the vast universe; rather, it is here, it’s now, it’s what we see around us. It is this place and we are all part of it. In the movie, it was the way they minister, that was the kingdom.
Second is that while we see injustices around us, while there is so much political turmoil, while there is so much corruption and killing, the kingdom of God can co-exist in all these. Just like in the context of Jesus’ time when Israel was under the Roman rule, the kingdom he offered was not something revolutionary such as overthrowing an existing government for all the injustices it inflicted but rather on embracing peace and sharing love in all the small things that they did.
Third is that Jesus Christ was as human as he could get. It was in his humanity where his divinity was revealed. Him getting tired, showing human affection of care, getting angry, and feeling afraid as well.
Very few people may remember the 2018 Mary Magdalene film as it was not as spectacular as that of previous lenten movies such as The Passion of The Christ, but it sure captured certain salvific truths of the gospel instituted by Christ which other movies failed to deliver — that is, it’s about charity, and forgiveness, and equality encapsulated into loving each other here and now.