Where Christ is Living

Why do you seek the living among the dead? It is the question that the angel asks the women on the morning of Easter. The same question is addressed to us, today.

Dsc 0785 Copia Dimensioni Grandi
An evening of songs and celebration at the parish of San Juan Bautista in Fuenlabrada (Spain).

Why do you seek the living among the dead? This is the question that the angel, on the morning of Easter, asks the women, who are crying and desperate, before the empty tomb.

They got up early and went to seek Jesus, images of what we too are, of what every man or woman is by their nature: seekers. It doesn’t matter what kind of work we do, our personal history. The vocation of each one of us is the same: “to seek,” to seek God.

We too, like the women, get up in the morning; a bit sleepy, we get dressed; we eat breakfast and are out the door, each one to complete his own task, his own work; each person moved, without being totally aware of it, by that same anxiety of women that went, on that morning, to the tomb. We set out seeking God within the things of life, but often we seek Him in the wrong place, among the dead and not among the living.

Why do you seek the living among the dead? What comes to mind for me are the gold miners, those from the United States in the latter part of the  19th century, made immortal by Charlie Chaplin in his Gold Rush, or like those in the beginning of the documentary of Wim Wenders, The Salt of the Earth, which depicts the life of a gold mine in modern-day Brazil: thousands of men of whom cannot be distinguished neither their face nor their ethnicity; that are all confused, like robots, in an enormous cave under the sun. And in silence, one above the other, they seek. They seek gold. They seek happiness. They seek God among the dead. And so it is for many of our brother men, who spend their lives seeking gold in wrong places.

We too can seek God among the dead. We too can reduce God to the image that we have our own satisfaction: work, money, people’s approval…

Why do you seek the living among the dead? It is so beautiful, this definition of Jesus: His principal characteristic is that of being living. Fr. Giussani often cited St. Irenaeus: “The glory of God is man fully alive,” and Christ is He who is alive par excellence. This is the response to our world, that in order to construct a new man needed to kill God and make itself into a god.

It is the place where Christ is to be sought: His Church, our communion. It is here that today Christ is living

Man needed to kill God to rebuild himself with his own hands and his own imagination, but the human being that is brought forth in this way no longer has an identity because he does not know his origins any longer; he no longer knows to whom he belongs. The result is a humanity that is immersed in a world that is more and more fake, in an existence that is always more attracted to death, which is invoked as a universal right. If God is dead, it is death that triumphs.

So then, where does one go to seek Christ? Let’s take a step back from Easter morning and return to three in the afternoon of Friday, when Jesus, a moment before his agony ends, recites Psalm 21, which begins: My God, why have You abandoned me? Then, bowing His head, He dies. We do not know if He recited the whole thing or if He stopped at those first, dramatic verses, but certainly, He knew that psalm well. It is very long and begins with an exact description of what He had already suffered, or, in other words, the account of His passion; and it continues with a second part where it affirms the victory of God, that ransoms His servant and His people.

The psalm, at this point, changes register and is filled with hope and certainty: They will praise the Lord, those who seek Him. So as to say that the desperate seeking of God on the part of men will finally find a response. Then, it continues: And I will live for Him. Jesus on the cross, a moment before dying, affirms that His destiny is to live: He who is dying is the living man.

The psalm goes on indicating where to go to seek Him: To a people yet unborn, they will proclaim: “Behold, the work of the Lord.” This last part is the most moving: “Behold, the work of the Lord.” On the cross, reciting this prayer, Jesus affirms before history what is the work of the Lord: the work of God is His people. Christ already has under His eyes, under the cross, that beginning of a people in His Mother, in John, in the women: the beginning of the Church that is born from the sacraments, baptism and the Eucharist, that surge from His side. It is the place where Christ is to be sought: His Church, our communion. It is here that today Christ is living. In particular, where His presence is most luminous, in who, that is, re-lives in their flesh His existence, His sacrifice. In all of those who freely accept the way they are asked to give their own lives. In the martyrs, above all, and then in those who are sick, in those who are in difficulty, but also in each one of us, if we live every instant of our live as an offering to God and to men, if we live our existence, even at its most simple and ordinary, as vocation. It is in this communion that we must go to seek Him today: because He is not a God of the dead, but of the living.

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