April 21, 2019 — “You know what's remarkable?” the character Fr. Phil Intintola ponders in an early episode of “The Sopranos.” “If you take everything Jesus ever said, add it up, it only amounts to two hours of talk.”
I haven’t found a source to confirm this data besides this fictional priest from New Jersey, but it sounds about right. The Gospels aren’t all that long, and they share a lot of the same content.
Jesus was a master of getting to the point, so often teaching with a potent clarity that was accessible to anyone who might be listening:
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Go and do likewise.
Blessed are the meek.
You are the light of the world.
Jesus in a nutshell: Relatively few, well-chosen words and lots of compassionate action, all building up to one death and resurrection to save the world.
Unlike a journey with Jesus through the Gospels, we’re totally bombarded with so many words everywhere, all the time. I say this as someone who lives on Twitter, where the reverse-chronological scroll of words never ends. Sometimes, we need a break from all that mental overload. We need to get to the point.
So, in anticipation of the Easter celebration, we turned to Twitter and challenged people to tell the story the resurrection of Jesus in exactly six words — no more. Boil the central truth of our faith down to its essence. What’s most important? (The project was inspired by Six-Word Memoirs, an initiative of SMITH Magazine, that in turn was inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s apocryphal six-word short story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”)
We got dozens of incredibly creative responses. Of course, there’s no single way to sum up the Easter mystery in six words. But there are certainly a whole bunch of ways. Here are some favorites:
“Mariam!”— Michael Peppard (@MichaelPeppard) April 16, 2019
“Tell the guys too.” https://t.co/lXxbX2iNGv
This takes me right there to the garden and reminds me that Mary Magdalene was the first to hear the good news. The intimacy of the relationships Jesus shares with his friends and wants to share with us is at the heart of the Easter story.
When I wonder where someone like Sr. Helen Prejean finds all of her energy in the fight against capital punishment in the United States, I remember unjust execution is a central moment in the Easter story. There’s so much pain there, but Jesus offers hope.
The greatest love story ever told.— Fr. Keith Maczkiewicz SJ (@hollathecollar) April 17, 2019
I mean, yes, that’s exactly right.
Christ is risen! Christ is risen!— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) April 16, 2019
So joyful Fr. Jim shouted it twice. How can one not?
He is risen as he said! https://t.co/EYsXHISNpa— Sister Anne (@nunblogger) April 17, 2019
All The Promises Have Been Kept— Sal Gonzalez (@frsalgonzalez) April 17, 2019
We think often about how God wants us to be faithful, but God himself is perfect faithfulness — faithful to the promises he made us.
Eyes opened in breaking of bread.— Dan Cosacchi (@dcosacchi) April 16, 2019
Here’s the Road to Emmaus post-resurrection story. We encounter the Risen Christ when we break bread together as companions, especially around the Eucharistic table.
Arrested. Scourged. Crucified. Buried. Resurrected. Appeared.— Michael Rudzena (@MichaelRudzena) April 17, 2019
I love the action verbs.
“Oh Death, Where is your sting?”— Colten Biro, SJ (@cbirosj) April 17, 2019
Colten is quoting 1 Corinthians 15 here, St. Paul’s own contribution to the #SixWordEaster project.
Death changed from tragedy to triumph— Fr. David Paternostro, SJ (@DavidPaternostr) April 16, 2019
And here is a possible answer to St. Paul’s rhetorical question: The sting of death is gone because it has been transformed into new life, promised to all of us.
doubts and disappointments, but grace persists #SixWordEaster— Teresa Hill Flannery (@thillflannery) April 16, 2019
This one makes me think of Peter denying, Thomas doubting, the apostles hiding, the sadness of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how the love of God overcomes all of that. Lots packed in to these six simple words!
Finally, three that made me laugh out loud, which isn’t a terrible thing, since Easter is the most joyful time. And I just learned about risus paschalis:
BROTHER PRIESTS - I know that some of you believe that telling a joke during a sermon is in poor taste. However, a beautiful Baroque tradition insists that you tell one during your Easter sermon. The laughter of the people was called the "risus paschalis" (Easter laughter).— Fr. Ryan Hilderbrand (@FrHilderbrand) April 17, 2019
First, one cribbed from Coach Eric Taylor of “Friday Night Lights,” a great preacher in his own right:
Empty tomb...— Chad Bruegman (@chadbruegman) April 17, 2019
Can’t lose...#SundayNightLights ??
Next, someone really running with the Hemingway formulation:
And lastly, some delightfully dry English humor from an English sister:
God is dead.— Theodora Hawksley CJ (@TheoHawksley) April 16, 2019
No he's not.
Check some more responses below. Easter blessings to all. Alleluia!