From Luke’s resurrection account: “And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’”
Why do you seek the living among the dead?
What a question to guide the Christian life. Why do we keep on seeking life according to the “death cult” principles of this world? Why do we keep on seeking life in the “dead works” of this world? Why do we keep on seeking life in ideologies that only lead to vast graveyards?
Like a fish not knowing it’s wet, or a homeowner not recognizing the smell of his own home, we don’t see the death cult that is the human experience. We’re like the people laughing at Jesus when He said of the girl who had just died, “She’s not dead, she’s sleeping.” How ridiculous. Doesn’t Jesus know that death is just the way of the world?
No, the way of the world is, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die.” It’s a cynicism. And amidst that cynicism, if we can get a taste here and there of feeling alive, we’ll jump at it, knowing full well the death that lurks on the other side.
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we seek that taste of “being alive” we think drugs, excess drunkenness, or sexual lust give us, when everyone knows they only lead to the sapping of our lives.
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we seek the lie of some philosophy or political ideology that we think will enhance life, when so often such programs lead to vast graveyards and deadened hopes?
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we seek for living neighbors in the unreal, virtual cyber world, and not in the flesh and blood neighbors next door? Meanwhile we wonder why depression and suicide is on the rise.
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we seek the meaning of “church” in stone cathedrals and beautiful artwork, and not in the living Body of Christ worshiping therein?
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Why do we talk about lost loved ones “living on in our memories,” knowing full well this pales in comparison to actually having them there, when we could seek them among the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, at communion?
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Because it’s part of the curse we’ve been born into, and we don’t know how to act any other way. But the Gospel – Christ’s resurrection – teaches us something new. There is life in this world, life to the full, centered in Christ and His Church.
The Lord said to Israel, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”
Similarly, the first extant book outside of the New Testament canon was called the Didache, and there too is presented the way of life and the way of death. The Gospel is a way of life, from its ethics, to its teaching of the Ten Commandments, to its Lord and Savior (of course), and to its Church and Sacraments.
Why do we seek the living among the dead? Good question. But it’s pretty good to know that, since Christ’s resurrection, the question can actually be asked. Before it couldn’t.