Some things bear repeating.

The Easter story which we retell and remember today is the most important story of all time.  It is the reason for our hope, our courage, our com- passion and our joy. We share it each and every year because we need to continue to withstand the despair, hatred, hard-heartedness, arrogance and anguish that grips our world.

With this in mind, I would like to share with you one of my favorite Easter homilies. If you recall, I shared this my first Easter here at Holy Redeemer. (Remember, that Easter we couldn’t come to Easter Mass.)

Several years ago, I did a rather fascinating pro- ject 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. (I can’t help it, I am a thief.)

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. (only four words, get it?) In case you are wondering my six word memoir was the punchline of a joke, a somewhat edgy 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 in- credibly 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 in particular really stuck with me.  It stuck because I believe that it is one that many people, if not all of humanity, could us. 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 human- ity. No. No. No. No. No. No.

They are all before us, beside us, around us and inside us. To paraphrase a vulgar bumper stick- er: Life’s a “no” then you die.

But today, we remember, we celebrate, we re- joice in a God who firmly and unequivocally re- sounds 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 whole 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 come- dy, 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, at times, we stumble over ourselves. To our new Catholics, I will tell you that there is no deep secret to living the Christian life beyond just continuing to say Yes to God wherever He leads you.

For because of this Easter 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.

Blessed Easter!

Father Kevin

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