Hard as Nails Ministries
The Chosen One

The Chosen One

By:  Fr. Peter Santandreu January 16, 2021
#AmazingNation, #Jesus, #love, #Winning

Recently, I have been watching The Chosen. This is a new project from VidAngel Studios that touts itself as the “first-ever multi-season show about the life of Christ.” You have to download an app on your smart phone to watch it, and when you do, it will give you all the back story you can handle on who the producers are and what their goals are for the show. In any event, this series is amazing.

Although this may be cliché, the amount of unfiltered refuse on TV (this includes Netflix, Hulu, and whatever else you kids are watching these days) cannot be overstated. That being said, it’s not all bad. There are some shows worth watching, but they are few and far between. Normally we (I) turn to TV at the end of the day to unwind and take a break from the demanding work of thinking and problem solving. TV is a sort of soother in this way, it’s an escape from the daily grind. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing. Alcohol is a soother, warm baths are soothers, good food is a soother, and all these should be considered as legitimate if enjoyed in moderation.

What makes The Chosen different is that it blurs the line between soother and leisure. Where “soothers” are more of an escape from the work-a-day world, “leisure” is something that actually gives meaning to life and aids our human growth. Leisure is an end in itself; it offers true rest and not just distraction. Study for its own sake, the enjoyment of friends, art, or philosophy are examples of leisure that don’t just tune life out, but give it more flavor. The greatest of leisure activities is worship/prayer. This is why The Chosen is so good. All the hard work of Lectio Divina and the imaginative prayer of the Jesuits is done for you by the creators of this show. It provides us a window into a possible interpretation of the day-to-day life of Christ with details the Gospels leave out, all while gently leading us away from daily concerns with its high production value. We see the sundry origins of Simon Peter, the unsatisfying life of Matthew the tax collector, and the inner turmoil of Nicodemus as he struggles with the tension of his high office and the invitation of Christ to leave it all behind.

Let’s be honest, the vast majority of religious movies/TV shows are downright penitential in their lack of production value. Most should be viewed only during Lent, especially on Fridays. Beauty is found at the intersection of form and content. While content is never lacking in matters of faith, form has been in short supply when it comes to the screen. This, of course, is not the case with The Chosen. Not only does it sweep you away in an imaginative relaxation at the end of the day, but it also opens up a profound depth to our perception of the scriptures. Can watching a show take the place of prayer? No. Can watching The Chosen grant fuel to future contemplative moments of meditation? Yes!

This show is amazing not only because it is good and easy to watch, but primarily because of its representation of Jesus. He seems like a guy I could hang out with. He seems like someone I wouldn’t mind learning from. He is living His best life with intention, simplicity, humor, and deep humanity. It becomes obvious why holiness is attractive, it gives us wholly to ourselves. The life of Jesus is one that is centered on willing the good of the other, challenging them to grow, and lifting them up in the arms of a mysterious affection that is never self-pleasing. This is the Jesus I want to know, this is the fully human, fully divine Lord, who continues to attract others to Himself throughout time.

It is also the Jesus I feel called to represent in my ministry as a priest. For me, this Jesus represents the best humanity can offer, which challenges me in all the ways I fail to live up to being in persona Christi. Jesus is a serious man, but never too serious to have a laugh or enjoy a dance or a song. He is solid in his relationship with the Father and isn’t at all concerned about his reputation when it comes time to chastise those considered important. He loves deeply and is fully present to the reality of the moment. In so many ways I want to be Him, I want to become more like Him. I want to want what He wants and love as He loves. It is an amazing thing to be confronted with such inspiration by something found on a smart phone. In the end, The Chosen saves us from the Jesus of extremes, and offers a corrective to prevailing overly grave or overly permissive representations of our Lord. I am excited to see where this series goes, and I encourage everyone to check it out if they can.

Photo Credits:
"File:The Chosen - Jesus touches the leper.jpg" by The Chosen press photos (press.thechosen.tv) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
"File:The Chosen - Nicodemus and Jesus.jpg" by The Chosen press photos (press.thechosen.tv) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
"File:The Chosen - Jesus at wedding with kids.jpg" by The Chosen press photos (press.thechosen.tv) is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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