Touched by an Angel

“Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.”

  • John 8: 7.

These words resonate whether you are a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or Jew. Whether you believe or not.

I doubt whether anybody remembers watching this show back in the day. It was a warm-hearted, feel good (about yourself) kind of show. We, as a family, would religiously gather around in the living room to watch Northern-Irish actress, Roma Downey, come down from Heaven to bring solace to troubled earthly souls and save them. Yes, Monica, the angel, would routinely announce to her bewildered creatures;

“I am an angel. Sent by God.”

In the wake of the recent tragedy and scandal of TB Joshua’s house of worship and healing quite literally falling down, barely anyone believes in angels, or guardian angels, such as the Angel Gabriel who was commissioned by God to announce to the Virgin Mary and her confused partner, Joseph, that they were to be the human vessels of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

As co-producer, Roma Downey, now 54, is chosen to play the part of the Mother Mary, the mother of Christ, in the latter half of the movie, Son of God. Roma Downey, married no less than three times in her life, is still a beautiful woman in more ways than one. And in this show – which highlights the human personality of Jesus Christ, His charismatic ability to call on us to trust in the will and power of God’s grace to save and heal, and His persecution and crucifixion by the Jewish sect and Roman oppressors – she does not hide her wrinkles.

As co-producer of Son of God, Downey also agrees to cast the little known Spanish actor, Diogo Morgado, in the lead role. The actor remarked that it was always going to be a challenge to give an impressionable interpretation, as actor, of Christ’s humanity, particularly during the crucial closing scenes when Christ’s suffering on the Cross becomes apparent.

One question I always have when watching television or movie productions on the life and times of Christ is the continued refusal by producers and writers at this late stage of our advanced knowledge and awareness of cultural differences to portray Christ authentically as He would have looked as a Jew born in the land of Palestine over 2,000 years ago. Instead, we have a persistent and stubborn motif of portraying Jesus as a European Jew with distinct Aryan features in accordance with the racist ideologies of the German National Socialists and far-right wing American evangelists.

Without detracting from the visual, physical and emotional beauty of Son of God, it is also always difficult to view portrayals of Christ on film with a modicum of conviction without thinking about the sectarian Catholic, Mel Gibson’s near-authentic and visionary creation of Jesus Christ. In Gibson’s film, graphically, but never gratuitously violent,  Jesus ( Jim Caviezel) speaks a mixture of Aramaic and Greek in keeping with the original dialect of that time. Further, the roles of the two Mary’s, Mary the Mother of God and Mary Magdalene, are played with far more conviction and grace by Maia Morgernstern and the Italian-born Monica Bellucci respectively.

Yes, it would be unfair to compare Son of God with Mel Gibson’s masterpiece which is far more superior at the intellectual, artistic and even spiritual level. It would be unfair, because we may be distracted from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s mission of hope and Christian fellowship. Most devout and born-again Christians will enjoy their work. I certainly enjoyed it. It lifted me after a stressful few days which had more to do with my own wandering from Christ’s message and path than the daily struggles that most of us are resigned to.

It should have appeal to those still seeking Christ, or those, like me, wishing to re-commit and address life’s issues from the perspective of Christ. Modern-day atheists are fond of carrying out bouts of Bible-bashing and refutations of the existence of Christ as the Son of God. I say this, because not one single atheist, particularly the great scientist, Stephen Hawking, has been able to prove beyond doubt, that Jesus is, or was a fake. Albert Einstein, a Jew who escaped Hitler’s genocide, and the late South African palaeoanthropologist, Phillip Tobias, have come out in favour of Christ, stating on many occasions that, yes, Christ exists.

Nevertheless, Roma Downey’s ongoing mission to bring people closer to God and specifically to Christ, remains a successful enterprise. After the movie’s end, I watched some of the background interviews and was inspired. Downey was in awe of how many younger men and women are being called and heeding to that call. The debate surrounding the person of TB Joshua,will continue for as long as the tragic loss of life at his TB Joshua Synagogue Church of All Nations remains unaccounted for.

To put that tragedy in its proper context, many are deriding Joshua as a false prophet, correctly quoting relevant texts from the Bible. Many are being hounded into testifying against Joshua’s failure to heal them. I, for one, had my own doubts about Joshua before that building collapsed. The point is this, who are we to judge?

And that is where Son of God can be considered an emphatic success. It is successful in calling up the most important messages given in the Gospel of John. Much like the movie does, I will only mention verbatim some of those important messages from Christ. There is the aspect of doubt. It is shown kindly in a scene where Christ, having risen from the dead, confronts Thomas. There is the aspect of faith, played over a few times in this film. There is the poignant aspect of making changes in one’s life through the misunderstood concept of being “born again.” It is shown nicely, just before Christ enters the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is confronted by the scribe Nicodemus.

There is that famous scene where Christ confronts all those who choose to judge the adulteress who is about to be stoned to death for her sin. And then there is the issue of forgiveness of Sin. Ultimately, it is a lovely film. We can watch it if we are not able to get to church on time.

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