Hosea began the tradition of presenting the relationship of Yahweh and people of Israel as a marriage. Israel was unfaithful to Yahweh as Israel practiced idolatry and expressed cruelty to the poor.
Yahweh stripped Israel of her rich ornaments in order to ride them of their idolatry of a false love so as to bring Israel back Yahweh, their first and only love. In today’s reading, we hear how Israel realizes that they must return to the LORD who will heal them and bind their wounds and in three days they will live and delight in His presence, in their true and abiding Love.
This theme of marriage is carried on later in the Old Testament and spoken of in Saint John. More specifically, Saint Paul will use this imagery in explaining the union between Christ and his Church. This morning we stand face to face in the great silence and stillness of Holy Saturday. We stand before the seemingly lifeless Christ who prepares to seal this marriage between the Father and us for all eternity.
In the Office of Readings, we hear Christ speak to us from an Ancient Homily on Holy Saturday, “See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.”
The world today seems to think God is irrelevant; God has no place in our lives. No matter how far we wander, God will always draw us back to himself. He cannot revoke his covenant, this marriage with us. Because God is Love, God knows nothing else than to live in communion with us, God knows nothing else than to delight in us and call us his own. In the psalms we hear of Jesus and how the Father has preserved our life from the pit of destruction when he cast all our sins behind his back. The Father has over-compensated his love. Love that is eternal, love which the jaws of hell cannot even contain!
What is at stake today? To love without the Love found on this holy night is to not love at all. To love without coming before the cross or the wonder of this holy night is to fall short of what we are truly meant to be: children of God, children of unfathomable, inexhaustible love.
Today, we remain still. We remain a people of hope who will hear our Savior call us out of darkness into his marvelous light, into the inextinguishable light of Paschal Joy which curses all sin! As the night draws near, we will stand before the tomb, the font, and the womb of baptismal joy. Later tonight, we will witness countless people who will bathe in the waters of Baptism to be claimed by God forever, claimed as his own. Our elect join the millions across the globe to this eternal marriage of Love. This is the marriage which we await tonight! There is nothing pre-nuptial about it. This marriage into the waters of Baptism and Initiation is eternal, we are bound by it. We have not chosen God, God has chosen us.
Now, we heed to his call as we hear him say, “The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”
Today is about Jesus Christ who is the central protagonist of this whole week which we call holy. It is not about us. It is about Him, the Jesus of history, the Jesus of faith, the Jesus who loved us in his suffering, the Jesus who is triumphant over the grave.