Monday, April 1, 2013

God's "I Do"

Like most citizens, I've been called upon for jury duty but I've never been selected to serve, so I've never been at a trial. But I've seen enough TV and watched enough movies to know the answer to the question, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?" It's "I do."

We hear that same response weddings where the couple has chosen to answer the question, "Do you take (Name) for your lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"

And we hear this response six times at the Easter Vigil when we solemnly renew our baptismal promises. When asked if we reject sin and Satan we respond with a resounding "I do!" When asked to affirm the statements of our creed we respond as well with "I do." 

This "I do" reject sin and "I do" believe in the Christian faith is really a response to God's prior "I do."

We could ask God, "Do you love me?"  The response would be, "I do." The Most Holy Trinity shared love by creating the world, human beings, and me.  Each of us is, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, "unique, precious, and unrepeatable." It is as though each of us gives God a pleasure and joy that no other person can give God.

We could also ask God, "Do you love me enough to die for me?" And the response would again be, "I do." When humanity sinned, rejecting God's love and plan, God did not abandon us but the Second Person of the Trinity became human, shared our life, our suffering, and our death. And he rose from the dead to blaze a trail to heaven, the fulfillment of God's plan for humanity.  In the words of a contemporary Christian song, "You would rather die than to ever live without me."

And we could ask God, "Do you love me so much that you want to marry me?" That may seem like an odd question, but the truth is we are made for union with God. In Pope John Paul's words, we are made for a "spousal union" with God and human marriages are sacred because they are a sign of that union which God desires with each human person. So, to this question also, God responds, "I do."

The Exultet from the Easter Vigil speaks of this marriage: "O truly blessed night, when things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to human." God became one with us so that we might become one with him.  Easter is the feast which anticipates the wedding feast of the Lamb of God when, as St. Paul declares in his chapter on Christ's resurrection and ours, "God will be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). Jesus rose from the dead so that we too could rise from the dead to be one with him forever.  He gives us a taste of his risen life in the Eucharist where he unites his flesh with ours. 

Another way of putting the six questions from the renewal of our baptismal promises is: Do you reject everything that gets in the way of your union with God? Do you want union with God more than anything else? May we also answer "I do" to God's "I do." 

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