EXCLAMATION MARK

Easter Vigil of the Lord’s Resurrection         

            Once I facilitated a two-day recollection. Towards the end of the recollection, I asked the participants to describe their recollection experience without using words first, but only by choosing a punctuation markcomma, period, question mark, or exclamation mark. Only after choosing a punctuation mark could they explain their choice.

            Some participants gave interesting responses to my question. One chose the comma… because that recollection made her stop or pause for a while… it made her think and reflect. Another one chose the period… because the recollection was overanother sentence needs to be said or written. Another chose the question mark… because that recollection made her ask important questions about herself – her person, her faith, her relationship with God, her way of serving her parish community. Somebody chose the exclamation mark… because that recollection was a moment of genuine happiness and joy for him, and he is so excited to share his experience to his family and friends.

            I would like to give you the same exercise or seat-work: Describe Easter Triduum experience, without using words, only punctuation marks – comma, period, question mark, or exclamation mark.

            Let us leave that exercise first… Let us try to find first the punctuation marks in the Resurrection story or Easter story from the point of view of the disciples.

            Easter for Jesus’ disciples was a day when life felt like a period. He was dead. He was buried. The disciples’ expectations ended. But wait – news of an empty tomb… the period is no longer a period, it is a question mark. That is worse than a period. Now they are beginning to doubt. Where is he? They are perplexed. The guards are gone, the stone is rolled away. Then an angel speaks, Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.” And of course they remember! The periods are gone. The question marks are removed. There is one massive exclamation mark! That is what Easter is all about: an exclamation of gratitude, an exclamation of praise, and exclamation of happiness and joy for the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the salvation it brought us.

            Balikan na natin ‘yung exercise or seat-work natin… Which punctuation mark would you choose to describe this Easter for yourself?

            This celebration of the Easter Triduum should not just be a ‘comma’, in which we will pause – to reflect, contemplate, and pray – only for a moment, and then after the celebration no more – it has no more influence in how we live our lives daily. It should not just be a ‘period’ – as if it were only an ordinary story in which we put a period to end the story. Para bang ni hindi tayo excited o nagagalak sa pinakadakilang kuwento sa lahat. O maaaring nasisiyahan nga tayo, pero bilang mga tagahanga at tagapalakpak lang sa magandang kuwento ng Pagkabuhay. No personal involvement nor active participation our part. It should not just be a “question mark” – as if it were a big question. Maybe we still have doubts about the resurrection story. If not about its authenticity, we question its meaning and relevance in our life – as individuals, as a family, and as a parish community, as a Church, as a nation. We doubt whether it could really happen to us, to our loved ones, to the people around us. Maybe it is just too good to be true for us.

            Let us make this Easter an exclamation mark! Let us make our life an exclamation mark for the Risen Lord! Let us make it an exclamation of gratitude for Christ’s dying and rising for us! Let us make it an exclamation of praise for the wonders the Lord has done for us! Let us make it an exclamation of happiness and joy for being with us always, no matter what! Let us say this together: “If you believe in your heart… that Jesus is Lord… and God raised him from the dead… YOU ARE SAVED!

            May we become exclamation mark disciples proclaiming the good news of the Resurrection. May we become exclamation mark missionaries joyfully working for the building up of God’s kingdom. May we become exclamation mark parishioners cheerfully serving our parish community.

            Let us today imagine a God, like the God in Zephaniah 3:17, who rejoices over us with glad songs and dances with shouts of joy for us. Let us joyfully respond to this by singing: Join in the dance of the earth’s jubilation This is the feast of the love of God. Shout from the heights to the ends of creation, “Jesus the Savior is risen from the grave!” 

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