Rolling out the red carpet: Jesus on the big screen

2 mins read
Jesus Thirsts
Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist theatrical poster. jesusthirstsfilm.com

As a columnist with a case for press credentials in the Catholic space and a close friend in public relations, I’ve attended a few movie premieres. But I had never been to a “Red Carpet” event until the one held for “Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist,” a new limited theatrical release documentary.

I wasn’t sure what to expect — or what to wear. The fact that it was taking place in Orange County, close to the epicenter of the film industry was a little intimidating. Yet, I knew I’d be among friends, some of whom I haven’t seen in a while, comfortably at home in a Catholic crowd. But honestly, what made me buy the airline tickets was the insistent little voice inside telling me that I should go.

“Jesus Thirsts” reveals the power of the Holy Eucharist

That little voice never disappoints. And neither does this film. There has been a more-than-usual number of faith-based movies in theaters over the past year, and we’ve managed to see most of them. But this documentary is special. That’s because it offers unabashedly what the rest have soft-pedaled: substantial catechesis. Accompanied by beautiful cinematography and an on-the-mark balance between information and inspiration, “Jesus Thirsts” reveals the power of the Holy Eucharist with both reverence and warmth.

But it also does something else. “Jesus Thirsts” brings the breadth and depth of what we believe about the Most Blessed Sacrament to life through personal faith witness. By exploring the lives of Fulton Sheen and Cardinal Van Thuan, the evangelical fervor of Chris Stefanick and Father Donald Calloway, the expertise of Scott Hahn and Father Robert Spitzer, and the ministries of Sister Briege McKenna, Curtis Martin and Jim Wahlberg, this movie exposes audiences to the unity and diversity of the Catholic faith.

But this movie connects to audiences even more powerfully through the lives of ordinary Catholics whose names are not familiar. Deacons who serve in parishes and prisons. A priest who brings Eucharistic adoration to Ugandan villages. Italian monks who tend vineyards and make wine. And the Polish religious sisters who bake the hosts that are used at Mass. Their love and devotion is palpable.

Red carpet event centered on the Eucharist

The stated purpose of the “red carpet” event was to create an opportunity for Catholic media to interview the film’s writers, producers, distributors and cast to provide an official kick-off to getting the word out. But something much deeper occurred. The premiere of “Jesus Thirsts” was an experience in miniature of what the Eucharist does and always has done: gather the church.

With this film, Spirit Filled Hearts’ Deacon Steve Greco and Bishop Kevin W. Vann of the Diocese of Orange have created something of lasting value. “Jesus Thirsts” is capable of reminding us all of what matters most: Jesus Christ remains with us in the gift of the Eucharist. This film shows us how receiving his body, blood, soul and divinity makes us more intimately bound to one another. It joyously celebrates the truth that together, we are the body and bride of Christ. It teaches us why we don’t need to wonder what it would have been like to “be there” when Jesus walked the shore of the Sea of Galilee or the streets of Jerusalem. For he is still with us, not just spiritually, but physically in the sacrament of the altar. God longs to be with us. The Good Shepherd comes to lead and feed us, guard and guide us.

Uniting the Church through revival

Catholics have been scattered for too long. If there is one thing our church needs in these years of Eucharistic revival, it is to learn the difference between circling the wagons and gathering the sheep. Jesus does, in fact, thirst for souls. He thirsts for unity. He thirsts for authenticity, perhaps even more than we do.

This film gives us all a chance to roll out the red carpet for Christ. We don’t need to spend lots of money on designer dresses or suits. (Like everything I wear, mine was from a thrift shop.) We don’t have to be “Catholic celebrities” with well-known names. We don’t need exceptional talent or expertise of any kind. We only need the humility to know just how much we need Jesus, and enough compassion to realize that the rest of the world does, too.

“Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist” is showing in theaters June 4, 5, 6. See https://jesusthirstsfilm.com/ for more information.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a sinner, Catholic convert, freelance writer and editor, musician, speaker, pet-aholic, wife and mom of eight grown children, loving life in New Orleans.