Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Vigil Homily: God Stoops Low to Romance Us

This past Easter Vigil I had the great privilege of baptizing three and receiving five others into the Church.  Then, I confirmed all eight of them.  Some of them asked for a copy of the homily I gave at the Vigil, but I had never written it out.  This is what I can recall of it. 

Once, when speaking with an older married couple, I inquired about how they came to be married.  In what appeared to be a well-rehearsed team effort, she said, "Father, he wouldn't stop bothering me once we met.  I wanted nothing to do with him.  But, he would show up places to see me, would send me letters, and kept asking me to go out with him.  I finally realized that he was never going to leave me alone and so I said, 'yes.'  And the rest is history."  The husband grinned the whole time she was speaking and added at the end, "That's exactly how it happened, Father."

During the Sacred Triduum, the Liturgy has been revealing something quite shocking to us.  God has lowered himself to be a beggar in front of us.  God has been trying to win our love.  He's been showing up all over the place, doing all sorts of things to seize our attention.  God is trying to prove himself to us.  We know, of course, that it really should work the other way. We should be trying to impress God, win His approval, convince Him that we are worthy of His love.  But God has done exactly the opposite.  He has condescended to become our pursuer.  God is trying to win us over, to romance us.

On Holy Thursday, Jesus invites us to dine with him.  He allows us to place our heads upon his heart, to listen to the sound of his heart beating.  He feeds us with His very Body and Blood so that we can experience the intimacy of His love.  But as if this were not enough, he lowers himself right down to the floor.  He--God--washes our feet.  He kneels down on the floor in front of us and washes our feet, dries our feet, and kisses our feet.  God kisses our feet.  This is how much He wants us to be convinced of His love.  This is shocking.  God is trying to win us over.

On Good Friday, He lowers Himself even more.  He lowers Himself and takes on the form of a slave, obediently accepting even death, death on a Cross.  If lowering Himself to the floor and kissing our feet were not enough, now He lowers lowers Himself even more.  He lowers Himself and takes on the depths of our human experience.  There is no depth to which Jesus will not stoop for us.  He enters into the depths of our sufferings, the depths of our pain, the depths of our weakness.  Jesus descends even into our sins.  St. Paul tells us that He who knew no sin became sin for us.  On the Cross, Jesus lowered Himself to become sin for us.  There is no place that He will not go for us.

He lowered Himself to experience death.  He lowered Himself into the grave for us.  Jesus continuously lowers Himself to the very depths of our human experience to prove His love for us. 

Tonight, during the Easter Vigil, we see why Jesus lowers Himself to all of these places.  We tend to think that these realities--suffering, sin, and death are at the very depths of our human experience.  They pose a barrier to us.  There is nothing beyond them.  We tend to think that there is nothing beyond them.  The world lives as though the final word on our existence is suffering, death, and sin.  Our weaknesses define us.  Our sin and faults are the final word.  The grave is the last place we can go.  The great fear of every human person is that they will not be loved eternally.

Tonight, we know that Jesus has entered into these very depths and where there once was a great stone preventing us from going any further, He has shattered that stone.  Jesus--through the power of the Resurrection--has broken through the wall of our limitation.  Death and Sin no longer have power.  He has entered the tunnel of our existence and has broken through the other end.  And where does this other end lead to?  It opens up to the eternal love of the Blessed Trinity. 

Tonight, three among us will enter into the waters of the Baptismal Font.  You will enter with Christ into His Death and Resurrection.  You enter the tomb of the Baptismal Font confident that you will emerge from the other side.  And what is that other side?  It is the pathway of the Resurrection.  The tomb is not the end.  You will enter into the Eternal Love of the Blessed Trinity.  Similarly, all of you who will be received into the Church tonight and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, you will be strengthened in your union with Christ.  You will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to live more courageously in this eternal love.

There is no depth to which Christ will not descend to prove His love for us.  In fact, tonight in that baptismal font, you will be taken all the way back to the depths of our humanity.  You will be taken all the way back to the sin of Adam.  Christ will go so low that He will get underneath that original sin.  He will shatter the power of that sin and restore you to the One who created you in love.  He will return you to what were the first words of our scriptures tonight: "In the Beginning."  What was in the beginning?  In the Beginning was God.  In the Beginning was the Blessed Trinity.  In the Beginning was the Communion of Love.  And, in Jesus, we are returned to this beginning.

In the Exultet tonight, we heard that on this truly blessed night, things of heaven are wedded to things of earth.  This is what tonight is about.  Tonight we experience anew the depths to which God will stoop in order to win us over.  God is wooing us, pursuing us, romancing us, trying to make Himself look good to us.  God has kissed our feet, suffered everything, lowered Himself to death, become sin, and entered the depths of our humanity so that we might might accept His proposal of marriage.  Tonight, thanks be to God, things of heaven are wedded to those of earth.  We have a spouse who loves us eternally.  God has become our spouse.


  1. Yes, this is exactly as I remember it on that Holy Night! Amen.


  2. Any word on where you are going yet Father?