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Homily Text: Canon Pat Browne on Easter Vigil

Empty tomb, Lourdes Stations of the Cross

Empty tomb, Lourdes Stations of the Cross

I want to talk to you tonight about Desire. Desire in our lives is good. It is a sign of life. Without desire there is no life. Everything will stand still. If there is no desire there is only death. What a mother feels for her child, a man for a woman, a starving person for food, human beings for love – these desires are ultimately the desire for God and they will not be stilled till God is possessed and the one desiring, is in turn, possessed by God.

Desire is movement – it is the ladder by which we climb to God and he has planted it in us so that we may climb this ladder and come to him.

God wants our happiness. It is for this he created need and desire in us.

But we often divert desire and make the day to day things we desire gods in themselves. Or we make desire itself a god and our urges become more important to us than what is ultimately longed for. The ladder becomes more important than what it could help us climb to.

It all goes wrong when we do not know what we desire – when we forget God and think other things will satisfy our ultimate longings. Then our desires fasten and fixate on lesser things making us forget God.

The feeling of emptiness is one of the most common complaints of our age. People describe it as a void within them, a sense of meaninglessness, a feeling of “What’s the point”.

Strangely though, the people who feel this sense of emptiness most often tend to be those whose lives are filled – indeed overcrowded, with material things, plans, desires, ambitions for yet another night out partying, another car, another house, whatever.

Those who feel the sense of emptiness and suffer most, are usually people who are afraid; afraid to allow space, silence, aloneness or a pause from hyper-activity in their lives. Their lives are racked with fear of being alone either with themselves or with God, or both.

Fear is dangerous because in our attempts to fill the empty space, we can become grasping, frantic and often cruel, This in turn, leaves us even more empty, than before. And so the cycle continues.

If you ask them they tell you there is nothing wrong. But they are not at peace. Spiritually they are not well.

The Gospel at Christmas and Easter especially, reminds us that God has taken the initiative. He has lowered this ladder called desire. And because he longed for us first - long before we knew him - He climbed down the ladder to us. Jesus lived with us in the craziness of this world of contrary desires, fixations, compulsions so that he might show us the way back up that ladder following our most fundamental desire – to know true love, to know his Father as he knows him and so come to ultimate happiness and peace.

Each step on that ladder is a step of unselfish love. This is the way he showed us how to live, if life is to have meaning and purpose.

The tomb in which Jesus was buried is empty tonight. The Lord is truly risen.

Now he seeks to make his home in another empty place – your heart and mine. He brings Life and Love.

Will we let him in?

Tonight on their search for God and following up on their desire for true and lasting happiness Pargol Malekirad is going to be baptised and Benedict Sisman who is already baptised and confirmed in the Orthodox church will be received into full communion with us.

Let us all stand alongside them at this Easter Vigil with the same desire, open our hearts and invite the Risen Lord to fill the empty space and make his home in us permanently.