Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19, 2014: Easter Vigil A

One evening,out of the blue, I got a text which read, “God’s not dead.” How would you respond to such a text? Would you reply, “Of course He’s not dead.” Or would you reply, “I don’t know.” I simply replied back, “Amen!” Later I found out that someone texted me that phrase  from a movie theater during the movie with the same title, “God’s Not Dead.” In the movie, a college philosophy professor asked his students what the famous philosophers Sigmund Freud, Noam Chomsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ayn Rand have in common. They were all atheists, he said, and the professor made his own atheism clear. He instructed all the students to write on a piece of paper, “God is dead” along with their signature; it was an automatic credit for doing so. There were Christians in the class, and all did as the professor instructed, except one student. I mentioned this movie to Bishop Muench during a gathering at the Chancery. He came back with a poster which read at the top in bold, “God is dead,” with a caption underneath which read, “Nietzsche, 1883.” Underneath that sentence was in bold, “Nietzsche is dead,” with a caption underneath, “God, 1900.” 

In our Gospel today, we encounter women who loved Jesus so much that they got up very early to go and anoint his dead body. They were convinced that Jesus was dead, but love prompted them to head toward the tomb. A beautiful dream was over. It was time to face life and go on as well as they could without their Master. When they arrived at the tomb, the angel announced that Jesus was alive, and then they ran away, trembling, saying nothing to anyone because they were fearful yet overjoyed.

How often in our Christian life, do we go about life as if God is dead or that He is a figure who is irrelevant in our daily lives?  In the movie, the girlfriend of the lone student who refused to consent that ‘God is dead’ urged the boyfriend to just sign the paper and get the credit. She said, “You need to prioritize and decide who is the most important person in your life, me or your professor.” The boyfriend responded, “What if it’s God?”
God should be the most important person in our lives. What would it look like for our lives if God was at the center of our lives? He would no longer be relegated to a bumper sticker, a cross hanging on our neck, or a one-hour commitment on a weekend sitting in a pew. If He was at the center our lives would we: discern our vocations, instead of choosing one based on earning potentials; discern how we can be humble instead of choosing prestige; discern how we can be self-giving, instead of self absorbed.   

In the movie, the girlfriend responded back to her boyfriend, “God says it’s me.  So just sign the stupid paper.” The boyfriend replied, “God stands up for me. Who will stand up for God?”

This is how we stand up for God, believing that the tomb is empty. He is alive! He is with us! Instead of feeling indifferent, we should rejoice everyday that He is at our side. What does it mean to you to stand up for God? Is it living out your faith? Is it trusting that He will bring you safely through everything, including death? Is it defending life, serving the poor, and handing on your faith to your children and grandchildren?

If God is not at the center of your life, what keeps you from making the steps necessary to invite Him in and let Him be your God? I saw an interesting refrigerator magnet that read, “If God is your co-pilot, swap seats!” Is God inviting you to swap seats? We are invited during this Easter season to rejoice in a living God who longs for us to not be afraid to live the Good News of  Our Lord’s Resurrection.