A few years ago while I was waiting to be interviewed the interviewer, we’ll call him Jon, started sharing about his own personal life. Jon had been raised in a very strict evangelical family. In fact his father was a Minister. The faith that he experienced was hard and stifling and it turned him off to religion completely, the journalist even lost faith in God and became an atheist. Jon did not miss God, did not miss religion in any way.
Then one day Jon and his wife had a child; a beautiful little girl: Zoë. Jon was not prepared for what came with fatherhood.He could not believe how much he loved his daughter. His capacity for loving Zoë grew almost at the same rate as her little body. At the time he was telling me this story Zoë was about 12 months old. Her first birthday move Jon to reflect on his own life and his mortality. He confessed to me that he could not believe that the love he had for his daughter could possibly, one day, just cease to exist. Love has to transcend death.
It certainly does. The love for his daughter, brought Jon closer to rediscovering his faith in God. Jon’s love for his daughter Zoëis but a fraction of God’s love for us. God’s love for us is so great, that God became one of us in Jesus, loved us to death, and rose again, to bind humanity to heaven once and for all, in a love that will never end. God’s everlasting love is for everyone, and yet not everyone is ready to receive it. We have to be open and willing to welcome God’s love in our lives. Three types of people are most open to the experience of God’s love: the oppressed, the wounded and the sinner.
Women, the first of distinct group in humanity to be oppressed, were also the first to welcome the message of the Resurrection. The women who followed Jesus experienced him as someone who loved them without condition, someone who was willing to break the rules, and meet them where they were. They hungered for the love and eternal life that Jesus had to offer.
Among the women was Mary Magdalene, a woman deeply wounded. She was not, as some traditions have held, a prostitute. But she was burdened by some terrible affliction. Mary experienced healing through Jesus. She too hungered for the love and eternal life that Jesus had to offer.
Finally, Peter, the first among the Apostles, one who experienced Jesus’ love was probably also Jesus’ greatest disappointment. Peter denied Jesus, not once, but three times, when Jesus needed him most. Peter’s awareness of his own sin, his need for God’s forgiveness, left his heart open to accept what other disciples considered to be foolishness, that Jesus had risen from the dead.
We who are gathered here tonight are the oppressed, the wounded and the sinners. We have come here to worship, because we too have experienced that unconditional love, God’s love for us a love that cannot die. The key though, is that we can only accept that love, once we are honest about our lives, our wounds, our sins, our need for God. We need to do this as individuals, as a society, and these days especially as a Church.
On this most Solemn of nights we celebrate a love which cannot die; a love that will enter into our hearts, and forever us bind us to heaven.