Central Idea: With the Resurrection, God says “Yes” to all creation and calls us to say “yes” to life.
I would like to give you all a homework assignment. I want you, this week, to write your memoir. Now, now, now before you start complaining, let me explain. This might be either be easier than it sounds or harder… much, much harder.
Several years ago, I did a rather fascinating project with my students. They were also asked to write a memoir of their lives. But here’s the catch: you can only use six words. I actually stole this idea from a book I read which is based on this very simple, yet very intriguing premise.
Some of the memoirs were goofy, yet revealed some truth nonetheless. One procrastinator just scribbled something very quickly: This is not good. I’m sorry. Another bold young man, stealing from Julius Caesar wrote: I came, I saw, I conquered. Some were very upbeat, clever and funny. One student wrote: I am an overachiever. In case you are wondering my memoir was the punchline of a joke, a joke which I really shouldn’t tell you in church. It goes like this: Not bad for a country priest. I will let you figure out the joke, and yes, I know that since I’ve moved to Webster, I am no longer a country priest. Some of my students’ responses were incredibly deep and rather poignant and profound. One girl, a dancer and quite possibly the smartest student I ever taught wrote: Dancing through life, stumbling over myself. Another wrote: Only my music knows the truth.
But of all the responses, one of the memoirs really stuck with me. It stuck because I believe that it is one that many people could use, if not all of humanity. A girl simply wrote:
I’m used to the word “no.”
I’m used to the word “no.” Isn’t that the story of humanity in general? We sin. We say no to life and love. We suffer. Life says “no” to us. And we die. The ultimate “no” perpetrated on humanity. No. No. No. No. No. No. They are all before us, beside us, around us and inside us. To paraphrase a vulgar bumper sticker: Life’s a “no” then you die.
But tonight (today), we remember, we celebrate, we rejoice in a God who firmly and unequivocally resounds with a “yes.” By raising Jesus from the dead, God says “yes” to creation, “yes” to life, “yes” to us. God, are you there? Yes. God, do you care? Yes. Do you forgive us? Yes. Is the long reign of sin and sadness ended? Yes.
As we stand before the empty tomb, we remember this central, vital, essential tenet of our faith. We stand against the night, against the darkness, against the hate, against the futility, against the gloom, against the senselessness and dedicate ourselves to living the fullness of life in Christ. Our lives must now be a “yes” and we need to share that with a world that is far too used to the word “no.” Especially now, in this mad season.
If you have ever watched improvisational comedy, where actors make up stories and jokes on the spur of the moment, you probably wondered how they can do that so fast and think on their feet so quickly. One of the tricks of the trade is that you always have to think and act and speak “yes.” In improv, one never says “no.” The idea is that you must always go with the flow of a skit no matter what. You must always agree, always keep moving forward. Improv artists know that a single “no” derails and, indeed, kills the show.
The same is true with our lives, especially now. The message of Easter is that we are continually to say “yes” in our lives as we dance our way through life, even if we, at times, stumble over ourselves. To our “soon to be new” Catholics, who admittedly will have to wait a bit longer, I will tell you that there is no secret to living the Christian life beyond just continuing to say Yes to God in wherever He leads you.
For because of this day the memoir of our lives, the memoir of the Church, the memoir of all humanity is now condensed to six glorious words: Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.