One of the few movies that I actually went to the theatre to see last year was called Warm Bodies. It did not play very long, partly because it is a zombie movie; and many of us are quick to write off zombie movies. Watching zombies or the living dead (cold, solitary, and listless) stagger around trying to eat people is just not a very appealing way to spend two hours. But someone recommended Warm Bodies and I went to see it. I liked it. It was a romantic zombie movie. As the movie begins, a future virus has infected most of the population and turned them into zombies. A small number of humans still survive, but they live behind a steel wall and spend most of their time defending themselves against zombie attacks and making the occasional foray into zombie territory. A young woman’s fiancé who goes on one of these attack missions falls victim to a zombie; and the young male zombie who kills him consumes his brain. Now here is something you probably do not know about zombies. When a zombie eats your brain, the zombie takes on your memories. So now this zombie has a memory of being in love. He experiences a desire to connect with this young woman, who has foolishly ventured into zombieland looking for her fiancé. He finds her and tries to protect her and show his concern for her; but, of course, he does this very awkwardly because that is the only way that zombies can do anything. Yet as he struggles to express his concern, he becomes less cold and zombie-like and he begins to regain the power of speech. When other zombies notice the two of them holding hands, it triggers a memory in them of what it meant to be connected to others and to care about another human being. Little by little the zombies start curing one another. The cure for the disease was love. And love brought them back to life.
I watched this movie again recently when it appeared on television. It struck me as a parable about Easter. As far as God’s dream for us and our world is concerned, we often act like the living dead. We go through the day zombie-like, doing what is expected of us, but feeling cold and solitary on the inside. The competition for money and power and position can seem as brutal and dangerous as a foray into the land of the zombies. We come to church for Easter. We have a family dinner, and then we go back to our zombie-like existence, as if nothing of any real importance took place that first Easter morning. But what would happen if we allowed the power of this Feast to truly fill our lives? What would happen if we truly believed that the Spirit of Jesus who rose from the dead on Easter Sunday lived within us through baptism? What would happen if we allowed Christ to be part of every decision we made, every relationship we formed, every example that we gave? What might happen if we did not just think of Jesus as a prop that we drag out on special occasions but as a force of life and love at the very center of our life? What would happen if we decided that we wanted to commune with Jesus every day in prayer so that we would always be challenged to be a better person and challenged to remake the world according to a different model? Would we not become less self-absorbed and less competitive? Would we not be more focused on our loved ones and more concerned about those in need? Would not our hearts, warmed by the fire of God’s love, infect others? Would not others become more human too? What would happen if the God of life and love truly got loose in the world?
On Easter Sunday God proved that the Lord of life could not be held in a tomb. Jesus was too full of life to be bound by death. The power of love brought him back to life. What might our future world be like if more of us kept that memory in our brain? Could not Christ’s resurrection from the dead be the cure for our zombie-like symptoms? Have a blessed and an unforgettable Easter!