Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Vigil 2008

St. Vincent’s Chapel

Listen to Homily

Many years ago I was running a retreat in Litchfield Connecticut
We were about to start with a Holy Hour on Friday Night
when one of the other friars told me that the kitchen was closed
and that the cook had left.
We were supposed to have supper that night.

People had traveled for hours and had not eaten
and they were hungry, I panicked

I took off my vestments almost threw them at one of the other friars and asked him to take over.

I grabbed someone to go with me and we drove 1/2 hour to the Stop and Shop in New Milford.

The student and I ran through store...

We got platters of meat and bread
and chips and fruit and drinks and cookies
things seemed to be flying off the shelves
I always over buy and then we ran to the check out counter...

We quickly piled it on the belt
The guy behind me looked a little puzzled at me
as we threw all this food on the belt.
I was still in my habit, a strange sight for Friday Nights at Stop and Shop

I explained that I had 50 hungry college kids to feed
He didn't seem that interested but was polite

I told the kid with me that we had it we had to be back in 40 minutes
The lady at the cash started scanning everything.
When she had finished she said 178.51 please

I reached for my wallet and it wasn't there
I started slapping all of my pockets and there was no wallet.

The lady at the registered repeated 178.51.
I looked at the kid who was with me
he had nothing and looked away embarrassed
it was so awkward

I felt as if there was huge spotlight of shame shining down on me
screaming, shady, scammer or looser whatever..

Finally I stammered
I forgot my wallet
am so sorry I forgot my wallet

What do I do now? I asked
This has never happened to me.
I don't know what to do
I have no license ID nothing...

It seemed like I was frozen in time

Then i heard
How much was that?
178.51 the lady said a third time
the guy behind us gave her his credit card
and said to me

Don’t worry
You are paid in full…

Thank you I stammered
Thank you so much
I can't believe I did this

Thank you, what is your name
What is your address?
I have the money I can send it to you

Get going he said.... you've go 35 minutes

I was in awe of this stranger
who was under no obligation at all to help me
but paid my debt in full none the less

I remember it like yesterday

You know
All of us have debt....

Many of us would feel alone and ashamed
if where we've been,
or what we've done were ever known

It would be like that giant spot light of shame that I felt in Stop and Shop
We have just heard 9 readings from salvation history...

Be it in the slave camps of the Egyptians
Or as they wandered in the Sinai desert
Or as they failed to heed the prophets
Or as they were being led away into Babylon

God has always been faithful to his people
He has intervened over and over and over again
In the life of the Church and in our personal histories

He did not and does not just leave us standing
in the cash register line of life
ashamed and alone because of our sins and our debts

Our God does not turn away from us
even though we've turned away from him.

On Holy Thursday God taught us how to live
He begged us to love each other humbly
to be of service to each other
and to wash each others' feet.

And on our journey he promised to be forever present to us
in his Body and in his Blood

On Good Friday God taught us how to love
Showing us by his example that loving will not be easy
and that each time we love a little part of us has to die

Tonight the entire church
all of creation in fact,
rejoices in God's victory over death

Because by his cross and resurrection he has paid our debt in full
conquering even death itself

When the women who had gone to the tomb saw the risen Jesus
they ran to him and they rejoiced with him.

I can only imagine the joy on his face to see them and to be with them
It would have been understandable for them to stop for a while and talk and enjoy each other’s company.

They had been through so much

Jesus did not let them rest with him for long
"Go and tell the brothers" he told them..

In other words...
Go and share your joy with the brothers
Go and share your hope with your brothers

Like the women at the tomb we too must share our hope
which comes from our faith in the Risen Lord Jesus

We must share
The message of the Gospel
The message that God loves us
The message that God has freed us from our sins has paid our debt in full
We must proclaim with our lives that death no longer has power over us.

If we truly believe that Jesus has risen how can we keep quiet

Permit me one a couple of words to those of us here who seek to be full members of our church

Holy ones, Kayla, Michael, Michael, Victoria and Vivian

Almost from the time of Jesus the Church has welcomed new members at this Easter Vigil
in ceremonies pretty much like the one we celebrate tonight.

We are so happy that you are here
We are grateful that you heard and listened to God’s call
Your willingness to follow God's call is a beautiful example to us
and a wonderful witness

We are excited
that some of you are seeking full communion in the Church
and we look forward to you to being completely involved in the life of faith on this campus. WE NEED YOU !!!

Who knows how God will bless us with and through your holy lives.

We can’t wait for the baptisms we will celebrate tonight…
Through the power of this sacrament
you will be born again of water and the spirit

I promise we heated up the water as best we could.

Your Baptism and reception into full communion is not an end but the beginning of an incredible journey

Those of you who will be confirmed..

Never forget
that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can change your life
and the lives of everyone you come in contact with.

And those of you who are going to receive Holy Communion for the first time…
Your excitement makes us all stronger in our conviction
that God is always present to us in the Bread of Life

Tonight Jesus tells challenges us like he challenged the women at the tomb.

Don't be afraid
Go and tell the brothers.

These are two simple Easter challenges

May we live them each and every day of our lives

May our lives proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ the Risen Lord


Dying he destroyed our Death
Rising he restored our life

We are Paid in full indeed

He is Risen
He is Risen

Alleluia Alleluia


Laura said...

Hey Father Bob! Thanks for posting your homily for tonights Vigil. I was there last year (getting baptized) and was kinda sad that I wouldn't be there this year... back in Buffalo celebrating with butter lambs and other uniquely Buffalo treats and getting ready for Dyngus Day! Have a Happy Easter!!!

Fr. Bob said...


Butter lambs... I remember those.. my best to everyone in Buffalo...
I'm a Cheektowaga Boy (I guess I'm verging on ad Cheektowaga OLD MAN)

Happy Easter