Why ‘The Passion of the Christ’ instead of ‘The Compassion of the Christ’?

3 min readDec 22, 2023

I have always been interested in going to the root of words to understand how a particular word came into existence. Two words that I hear a lot and use a lot are passion and compassion.

I understand passion as an infectious positive energy exuded by driven and self motivated people. Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Kamal Hassan, Shahrukh Khan, Rafael Nadal are names that come to my mind when I think of passionate people.

I understand compassion as a kind and loving energy that has a tranquil nature and a serene quality. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Jesus Christ and most mothers represent compassionate people for me.

I have been trying to understand the meaning of these words for quite some time but didn’t get the right inspiration to dig deep. Recently, I was browsing for some good films to watch and bumped into ‘The Passion of Christ’ by Mel Gibson. I became curious. I was asking myself, “Why didn’t they name the film ‘The compassion of the Christ?”. This sparked my curiosity.

I started digging into Wikipedia. This is what Wikipedia says

As per the title, the film primarily covers the final 12 hours before Jesus Christ’s death, known as “the Passion”. It begins with the Agony in the Garden of Olives, continues with the betrayal of Judas Iscariot, the brutal Scourging at the Pillar, the suffering of Mary as prophesied by Simeon, the crucifixion and death of Jesus, and ends with a brief depiction of his resurrection.”

So, essentially, the suffering that Jesus Christ endured over the final 12 hours before his death is called Passion. When I went to the origin of the word, it is actually ‘suffering’ in Latin. So the passion of the Christ means the suffering of the Christ.

He endures immeasurable suffering including the crucification. Passionate people are willing to endure any kind of suffering and take any kind of pain to move towards their vision.

So, what is compassion?

It literally means “to suffer together”. No wonder the word passion is embedded into the word ‘compassion’. The difference here is that one is ready to suffer together with other people who are suffering or ready to suffer to alleviate the suffering of others.

We associate Jesus Christ with compassion. A passionate (suffering) Jesus ended up becoming compassionate (alleviating the suffering of others).

Since the film focused on the final 12 hours when Christ was going through the suffering, it is called Passion of the Christ. But it could very well be called ‘The Compassion of the Christ’ too.

In life, we suffer hardships to achieve our goals and dreams. Over a period of time, we suffer hardships to help our family to thrive and also, the larger community beyond our family. We start with a lot of passion and end up becoming compassionate as we grow old.

Life is like a bell curve.

Merry Christmas!

The bells are starting to ring.

My sketch where Jesus Christ chose to manifest in this fashion




Father, Entrepreneur & Writer; Edison award winning innovation; Daytime Emmy nominated animation; Author of two books; WEF Davos, Cannes Lions, TEDx