One of the most dreaded diseases in our age is Alzheimer’s.
Even though it does not inflict physical pain or weaken the body, it robs the person’s memory. Eventually, the person may not even recognize their own spouse or their own children. Precious memories of one’s life will slip away. That is why this disease is so awful. It is so important to remember. That is where our identity lies.
In the Gospel reading for the Easter Vigil, which may also be used for the Easter Sunday Masses, Lk 24:1-12, the angels at the empty tomb of Jesus instruct the women who have come there to visit: “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.”
This call to remember echoes the words that Jesus spoke only a few days earlier during the Last Supper: “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19). It is so important to remember.
This call to remember does more than merely invite us to hold onto images and facts concerning the past. It encourages us to have those past events shape our present reality. In that way, when we remember the past, it makes a difference in our lives.
We clearly see that happening in the Gospel reading to the women to whom the angels were speaking: “And they remembered his words. Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.” The act of remembering turns these women who were mourners into messengers of good news. It turns their grief into joy. It is so important to remember.
Perhaps that is why the Gospel of Luke refers to the concept of remembering so frequently. The word “remember” occurs eight times in that Gospel compared to only once in Mark’s Gospel; four times in John’s Gospel; and five times in Matthew’s Gospel.
Clearly, the act of remembering holds particular significance for Luke. He is encouraging us also, like the women in the Gospel reading, to remember. He wants the events of Jesus’ life — his words and example — to shape our present reality. He wants them to come to life again in us, in a new resurrection.
It is so important to remember. That is where our identity lies.