The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 13, 2001 Issue

Empty Tomb asks us what we don't see

Sometimes, we must live by eyes of faith and not just on what we can see

By Tom Rinkoski

Summoned to Serve

If the truth be told, my favorite version of the Resurrection story is Mark's, the one with no resurrection story. It's not the one we get to hear this Easter, so I feel some melancholy amidst my Resurrection.

Mark's story reminds me of the time my wife enters the empty tomb of my son's bedroom to put away his laundry. Like Mark's women, my wife entered Brian's room to complete a task. The Marys went to the tomb to complete an anointing the men didn't do. My wife enters Brian's tomb to put away the laundry. She stops and freezes.

While, there is no angel with a message, there is a lot to account for. All of you who are parents of teens know what I am talking about. She calls me and together we try to put together a rational picture of what must have gone on in this tomb. Sometime, we compare what we see there to the other kids' rooms. They're in college now, but the remains of their rooms still tell a story.

Each Easter, we Christians peer into the dark tombs. Take your turn to stare into the hollow and make up your mind about what it means. Male or female, teen or toddler, stockbroker or housewife, you are invited to come and stare. What do you see? What does it mean?

The Gospel story of Easter invites us to come and peer in the empty tomb and reconstruct our lives according to what we do not see and do not know.

In an information age, that seems like bad policy. I am fond of telling anyone who will listen that Christianity is more about embracing the questions than having the answers. Easter is case in point. I thank God daily that parenting is not based on being smarter (having more information) than your children. Like Mary's response to the empty tomb, I can sometimes just be scared out of my wits and run.

That is a good thing to do. Significant and meaningful relationships do not exist because of the exchange of accurate and/or pertinent data. Significant and meaningful relationships happen when people invest time, energy and care in each other. In Jesus' words, when you lay down your life for another. It works for parenting, friendship and for Christianity.

Nonetheless, we tend to worry a lot about "things." This is why someone felt they had to 'complete' Mark's Gospel, as if these new and wilier editors had a better punchline to the story.

Reconstructing Christianity from an empty tomb is something like guessing the spices that go into a tasty dish at a restaurant. I sometimes ask the waiter to check my guesses with the chef. I often wonder how the chef knew to use this one. As a result of this guesswork, when I cook I smell each spice I throw into the pot. Go back to the Gospel this week and reconstruct your Christianity so you can be the best Easter person possible!

As you read this column I am visiting Boston University with my wife and son. Imagine doing a college visit on Easter. It's just another one of those crazy parenting things! As Brian gets on that plane to head for Boston he is searching for answers to a thousand questions. Just like the Marys, he is looking into an empty future. He is entering an unknown city, an unknown university, and an unknown life. He is basing his choices on questions, not answers. He is practicing resurrection.

I urge you to practice Resurrection. There is a poem I am fond of named the Mad Farmer's Manifesto. It is written by Wendell Berry. It spells out the best Easter agenda I know.

So, friends, every day do something

That won't compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Walk away from the tomb in a fit of feeling. Don't use that energy to try to save the world, it has already been saved. Use that energy to start living like saved people. The poem continues:

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.

Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful

Though you have considered all the facts.

(Rinkoski is the Green Bay Diocese's Family Life director.)

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