Why Are You Looking For The Living Among The Dead?

Jose Vilson Jose

“While they were puzzling over this, suddenly two men in radiant apparel stood beside them. As the women bowed their faces to the ground in terror, the two men asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” – The Gospel According to Luke, 24:5

Double down on living.

I was always curious about the idea of a man dying on a cross and, three days later, rolling right out a cement bed. I was baptized, did my communion and confirmation over four years at Saturday school, and went to Catholic school for six consecutive years. In that time, I attended plenty of Easter Masses, each with different priests, homilies, and interpretations of the passage above. As a teenager, I watched The Undertaker do a mock resurrection a billion times over in wrestling matches, but that was mere resuscitation. The difference is that, with resuscitation, you expect complete death at some point in the future. Resurrection, on the other hand, promised life after having lived forever and a day.

For believers and non-believers alike, it also holds important lessons about the way we live.

Too many of us are asked to live in order to die. Our work often becomes a job, and not a passion. Our chores become ticks on a scoreboard, counting down to an eternal darkness. Nas once said “Sleep is the cousin of death,” a sure sign that our nervousness to close our eyes means we’re one day closer to involuntary shut-eye. It’s scary, too, because we seek the meaning of life from templates that have already lived. We mistake living for survival and vice versa.

Then, if and when we get to retire, we tell ourselves we’ve lived long enough to live our lives.

The resurrection suggested to so many of us that, when we look towards life, we can reorient ourselves in living to live, not living to die. So many of our worries and fears are death adjacent. People who haven’t seen real love in themselves and with others in a substantive way kill us in increments with mandates, insults, threats, and obfuscation. They thrust their hurt upon us, often in more ostensible ways like racism, sexism, and homophobia. They build up walls without realizing upon whose backs those walls are built.

These are the ways we’ve learned to kill each other without physical weapons.

Actual living means taking into account all that keeps us from our fullest humanity and tapping into it. Yes, it leaves us vulnerable. No, it is not easy. Yes, it is more internal work. Yes, it is still worth it. What’s more, living for living’s sake allows us, especially those of us who are educators, to take this work as it comes. We get so exhausted thinking years down the future that we lose out on the moments that lift us. We need to draw ourselves closer to the joy that actually gives us purpose, not wait for purpose to bring us joy.

We keep looking for the living among the dead. If we’re willing to live, we never worry about dying. We can be risen.