A few years ago, when our 8th grade presented the ‘living’ stations of the cross before our students and faculty, one of our faculty members was visibly moved by the spectacle of ‘Mary’ holding the dead body of her son ‘Jesus’. As she wiped a tear or two from her eye, one of her students, a first grader, looked up, saw the tears, and gently rested her head on the teacher’s arm. Then after a moment, she looked up and quietly asked: “Can I say something that is helpful?” (a code phrase in the classroom) “Sure,” she said. “He didn’t stay dead.”
Out of the mouths of babes, comes the deepest truth about our Lord and savior. “He didn’t stay dead.” And that, to quote the car commercial, changes everything. You see, if Jesus did not remain in the grips of death, if the tomb could not and would not hold the risen one, then it will not hold us either. And though we tend to think of that, usually in an ‘end of my life/days’ type of scenario –‘not staying dead’ is so much more immediate!
You see, ‘not staying dead’ means that there is a power within us that we can draw upon in any situation. And that power is full of LIFE, full of growth, full of change. We’re not stuck in our past mistakes or failures. And, we have an ability to walk into the places of death and bring life, bring change, bring growth. That power calls us to make a difference each day.
‘Not staying dead’ means that there is an URGENCY to our life – a preciousness to each moment, each opportunity to proclaim good news. That is what we hear in the gospel accounts of the resurrection – a kind of breathless excitement. “Go quickly and tell the disciples”, the angel says. The women “went away quickly from the tomb, fearful, yet overjoyed, and ran to tell the apostles”. It records the disciples running to the tomb. Not staying dead means that we run to all the places of the world that need good news spread to them.
As we take these next 50 days of the Easter season to unpack the wonder and mystery of the resurrection, we are meant to do that, not only in our Liturgical celebrations, but by our concrete acts of witness. We are to live and act in a way that cannot be explained except by the presence of the risen Jesus in us. He didn’t stay dead. Neither should we. Neither should we…