I have been trying to watch 'The Passion of the Christ' this last week. I say trying because every time I put it on I reach more or less the same scene--the heart-wrenching moment when Peter denies Christ for the third time--and somebody rings me or I get a knock at the door.
Now, this could be a coincidence. After all, I get a lot of phone calls even when I'm not watching movies with a religious message. But consider this: maybe somebody out there, or in here, doesn't want me to watch the movie through to the end. Maybe some infernal censor doesn't want me to view Christ's death and resurrection because it might give me hope for my own resurrection from the emptiness I've been languishing in for so long; or worse, because it might give me faith.
I know it's unlikely, from a logical point of view. But since the idea crossed my mind midway through the day today I have convinced myself it's true. The Devil is everywhere, right? Look in the eyes of the next Christian telling you about the evils of homosexuality. Or the next Muslim raving about the decadence of heathen Westerners. Wherever you see absolute certainty--the Devil.
Old Nick is a poor judge of character though, I have to say, if all the disturbances are his handiwork. When anybody, whether Hellish of Heavenly, tries to influence me to do something, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to do the opposite. Where before I vaguely wanted to watch the movie because I thought it might be good to learn more and make a better contribution to conversations with my Christian friend, I am now determined, if the Sulphurous One wants me not to, that I will watch it and also take courage from its message of hope.
I wonder why I have always found Peter's denial of Jesus more harrowing to watch or to consider than Judas' agony of self-loathing after selling Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver? Perhaps because I have wriggled away from the truth in a cowardly fashion too many times myself. It's harder to live with the knowledge that you are a moral worm than to hang your turpitude from the nearest tree.
Everything possible to be believed is an image of the truth, as William Blake would say.