In these past two years, Philippine media have been filled with images of extrajudicial killings. How can the photographs of the victims of extrajudicial killings be an allusion to the death of Christ? To address this question, we need a twofold process. The first step explores the meaning of the death of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark through biblical narrative analysis. The death of Jesus (Mark 15:16-16:8) serves as the climax of the revelation of His identity that, at the most devastating moment where everything seems hopeless and lost, Christ paradoxically reveals himself as truly the Son of God who embraces suffering and death as a way to manifest God’s solidarity and love for all. The second step studies the principles of the visual composition in photojournalism which help us “to read” photographs.
This thesis focuses on photographs of the victims of extrajudicial killings as the starting point of theological reflection on the death of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. There are sixteen photographs selected from the works of Filipino photojournalists. They run parallel with the seven topics in the story of the death of Jesus: 1) the abuse and mockery by the soldiers, 2) the darkness preceding the death of Jesus, 3) the death cry of Jesus, 4) the rending of the temple veil, 5) the confession of the centurion, 6) the presence of the women at the crucifixion, and 7) the empty tomb.
Photographs of extrajudicial killings and the Passion narrative are complementary to one another. A well composed photograph of suffering, with its piercing and evidential power, can be an effective instrument to contemplate on the mystery of the suffering and the death of Christ. Similarly, the story of the death of Jesus helps the readers find Christ in the photographs of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.