IN THE FILM The Passion of the Christ, Jesus is whipped severely and his blood pools on the pavement. Unable to watch, Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene leave, comforting each other alone through painful tears. Claudia, Pilate's wife, appears carrying clean, white cloths. In silence she hands them to Mary. After the body of Jesus is dragged away the crowd disperses, but the two Mary's return, kneel down and begin to wipe up the blood of Jesus using Claudia's gift.
A number of websites object to the scene: a psychiatrist wrote a sixty-two page booklet on male corporal punishment and women as outsiders, an evangelical Christian condemns the scene as uselessly un-scriptural, a film critic blasts the scene as creepy.
There are so many negative responses to the film-image I feel confident in putting my oar in the water. In the movie scene we might think of the priest at Mass, who after Holy Communion carefully purifies the chalice that has held the Blood of Christ. That purification should take place quickly, unobtrusively but gratefully.
And there is more. As our hearts expand, we might consider that all around the world and from time immemorial, women have wept over and mopped up the precious blood of loved ones. And God has entered that world of spilled blood.