Live – Jett Villarin, SJ

Luke 24:1-12 (Easter Vigil 2016)

Are we live? That was my question to the Arvisu pre-novices when I was giving a talk to them sometime ago. Yes, father, we are live. They were kidding of course even if the usual phone camera was trained on me.

Those three monosyllables are a good way to start our Easter reflection: are we live? That is, are we on the air? Are we transmitting right now, are we rolling in real-time? Are we being seen and heard right now? Are we being picked up, being covered? To go live is to go current, to tap and transmit what is ongoing. In electricity as in personality, a livewire jolts you because it, she, he is connected to a powerful current. In broadcast media, to go live is to catch the event unedited and not record it for later consumption. Going live makes us wonder also about the receiver. To whom are we live? Who are we transmitting to?

On this matter of the receiver, who we are transmitting to, who we are live to, we can dwell on two big questions: (1) Are we live to others? (2) Are we live to God?

Are we live to others? By this, I don’t necessarily mean live to the whole globe, the worldwide web, or even to our facebook public. Are we live at least to the persons who matter to us? Are they picking us up? Can they hear us? Can they see and receive what we’re sending?

After a UAAP game, some people would tell me, father, we saw you on TV. Oh my, caught in candid camera, I hope I was behaving. If you’re like me [and guess what, I am actually a shy person], you don’t want to be always live, always “on the air”. I smile when I see people with their “anglic” poses on fb. Quite consistent the turn of face, their best angle. I can understand. You don’t want the world to see all 360 degrees of you, do you?

But the truth of the matter is we do want certain people who we can be live to, before whom we need not fear being ourselves. These are the people we trust, the people we have learned to love, the people who have chosen to love us, no matter the angle or asymmetry or age of our faces. To them we can and want to be live.

Of course, going live can be duplex, that is, the transmission can go both ways. So instead of just asking, “are we live to others?” we can also ask, “are others live to us?” That is, are there people transmitting to us and are we able to pick up their signals? Are there persons who can repose their trust in us, who can be comfortable being themselves with us? Can we see their faces? Are there such persons who can be live to us, whose signals we can and should and want to pick up, persons who know they need not present an “angled” view to us because we choose to accept them, all 360 degrees of them?

On the second question: are we live to God? I think we are. I believe we are. I know we are. I hope we are. I mean, if the cloud can pick up anything, a fortiori, heaven should be picking up everything. Everything. God is picking up everything. We are live.

And you know what? That’s okay! No need to be afraid, no need to hide or re-do the video of your past. No need to splice or edit out certain episodes there. First of all, we can’t anyway. So no use the recurring regret and the rewind. Look at Peter and the way he rose from his sorry. Second, we have our entire life before us! We’re still writing our life as we speak. The script is far from over; especially now that with Easter we sense that the movie does not end where we think it usually ends. Third, the epilogue is not entirely ours to edit. The last punctuation mark is not ours to place, just as in the beginning the first word of our life was not ours to write.

Are we live to God? You bet we are. He’s picking up everything. And that for me is a source of serenity and courage: this truth that I am live to God, not just an angle of me, but all 360 degrees of me. It is liberating to know that God picks up all of who we are, all that we’re signaling, all that we’re going through, and he’s getting all that and still not pressing the remote to change the channel or surf another site.

Of course, this kind of live transmission is duplex too; it goes both ways. And so along with asking about our “liveness” to God, we also need to ask about God’s “liveness” to us: is God live to us? Are we picking up his signal? Or are we too distracted or busy shifting channels and tuning in only when convenient or desperate?

We can complain how difficult it is to get a good signal from God. But we do have a sense of what God has been signaling to us for all eternity. Admittedly before Jesus Christ, lots of dead spots there. But the transmission got better when Christ revealed to us the human face and voice of God. I know that that can be stretching it for some, but for us, that definitive transmission and our reception of it has been our redemption.

From Christ, who is the face of the Father’s mercy, we know that God’s signal, God’s live feed to us has something to do with our being live to others, and with others being live to us. This signal of God is not fuzzy. It is quite clear, this summons for us to be live not only to the persons who matter to us, but to those who matter to God as well. Seeing how and where our Lord moved about, we have a fair idea of who he means in our world today.

Is God live to us? Are we able to pick up his signal? I say we can because of Easter. Without Easter, without the Holy Spirit, this powerful current coursing through our lives, the Christ-event would have remained just a recording and not a live-stream we continue to receive to this day. Without Easter, the disruptive signal that is Jesus Christ would have been just one transient disturbance in the airwaves. If God is live to us, it is because of the indwelling of the Spirit that continues to make waves in our world, making it possible for God’s universal revelation of God to begin with Christ and the apostles and Mary, and to be sustained to this day in us, in the Church the People of God. Without Easter, all this would not have been live to us.

And so we ask again, are we live? Are we live to others? Are we live to God? Answering these questions might take a lifetime but answering them will bring us closer to knowing if we’re just living through a recording or living what is live.

A happy Easter, a live Easter to us all.

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