Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday Homily: The Velveteen Rabbit, God is REAL.

Homily for Easter

April 4, 2010

God is not a stuffed animal, He is REAL

Lk 24:1-12

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
“Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.


The Velveteen Rabbit is the Story about a toy rabbit that becomes real. If you have never read it or it has been a long time you can read it here:

or you can read my shortened version.

“Once upon a time, there was a velveteen Rabbit. He was made from soft fur and he was stuffed with sawdust. He had thread for whiskers and his ears were lined with pink satin. When he was given to the Boy on Christmas morning, he was smart, chubby, and very, very cute. He was the best Christmas present.” But as boys tend to do he quickly got bored with the Velveteen Rabbit and began playing with other toys. So he put the Velveteen Rabbit in the closet. While the rabbit was in the closet the other toys began to make fun of him, but one toy talked to him. “The Horse was the oldest toy of all and was very scruffy and worn. Unlike the other toys, he was REAL. ‘What is real?’ asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day. ‘It’s what you become when a child really loves you,’ explained the horse. ‘I was made real a long time ago by the Boy’s uncle. It can take a very long time. By the time you are real some of your fur has dropped out. But it doesn’t matter because once you are real you can’t be ugly.”

One night while the Boy was having trouble sleeping so his mother went into the closet and gave him the Velveteen Rabbit to cuddle with. From that night on, the velveteen rabbit slept with the boy. They grew to love being with each other. They had great fun together too. The boy would make tunnels under the bed sheet for them to play on. The Velveteen Rabbit went wherever the boy went. He had rides on his bicycle and played the Wii with him. He was so happy that he didn’t notice that everywhere the boy dragged him he would lose some fur and every time the Boy kissed his pink nose it grew fainter and fainter.

One day the boy left the Velveteen Rabbit in the woods. Two strange creatures appeared. They looked similar to the Velveteen Rabbit but were fluffy and brand new looking. They were wild rabbits. “Why don’t you come and play with us?” One of them asked. But the Velveteen Rabbit wasn’t able to move. You are not real are you said the wild rabbit. “I am real,’ said the Velveteen Rabbit. “The boy said so and he nearly burst into tears.” Just then the boy ran passed and the bunnies disappeared. The boy picked up the Velveteen Rabbit and carried him home.

A few days later the boy got sick and because he was contagious the Velveteen Rabbit was full of germs so they threw him into the garbage. The boy slept with a new bunny and forgot all about the Velveteen Rabbit.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the garbage the Velveteen Rabbit was feeling very lonely. He thought about the wise and gentle Horse. He wondered what use it was being loved and becoming real if he ended up alone. A real tear trickled down his soft velvet cheek and fell onto the ground. Out of the ground a flower sprouted out and as the blossoms opened a fairy burst out and kissed his nose. “When toys are worn and children don’t need them any more. I take them away and make them real.” “Wasn’t I real before?” asked the Rabbit. “You were real to the Boy.” The Fairy said, “because he loved you. But now you shall be real to everyone.” She took the Rabbit’s arm and flew him into the sky and brought him down into the woods and gently setting him in the midst of a group of rabbits said “Run and play, little Rabbit.” The little Rabbit discovered that he could move and jump and play with the other bunnies. At last he was REAL.

[Hold up the stuffed animal bunny.]

We all have this desire to be real. And along with that is this feeling that we are not truly being what we are supposed to be. We all have this desire of wanting to be alive, to live a full life. If we don’t know the love of Jesus like the Velveteen Rabbit knew the love of the boy, we will always remain a stuffed animal.

When the women came to the tomb with their spices in hand the angel said them “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”
And they remembered his words.

They remembered all that he had said to them how he loved his own in this world and he loved them until the end.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit all it takes is one person to love us to make us REAL. We have been loved and we have witnessed it over these past 40 days. Jesus loved you so much that he laid his life down for you. And because he was so sure of the love that the Father had for Him that love conquered death itself and he rose on the third day.

What was it that animated Jesus? What allowed him to Live even after death? He knew the love of the Father. It was the Father’s love that made him real. He knew it to his core. And that love is the life of the world.

So how do we become real? Well stop seeking the Living among the dead. We need to realize that God is real. He’s not a stuffed animal and we need to stop treating Him like one. You see we can’t just put God aside when we want and pick him up when we need Him. We will never have life if God isn’t real to us. We can’t treat God like a toy and expect God to submit to us… we are His creation and we must submit to God.

Where do we most experience God most fully alive? Where do we go to seek him and find His love for us? Right here, Sunday after Sunday, not every other Sunday or Easter Sunday once a year. That’s not a Living relationship.

You see in the sacraments God is present and God is alive.

[Grab the live bunny and show it to the people. Hopefully it doesn’t jump out of my hands or poop.]

God is Living, breathing, moving, and active.

If we truly sought Him here and came expecting a Living God we may just walk out of here different. God speaks to us every Sunday in the word that we hear proclaimed… were you listening? (Point to the bunny’s ears) God is present in the gathered assembly when you sing and respond to Him. Are you responding? (Take the bunny near them) God is present – His REAL presence in the Body and Blood that we receive in the Eucharist. Do you seek him there? (He’s real, move the rabbit). And finally God is present in the Priest – he uses my hands to touch you, my eyes to look at you, my voice to speak to you.

It’s here that we all come to discover how loved we are. It’s here that we experience the Resurrected Christ who is REAL. So why are you seeking the Living among the dead? Why are you looking for love with anyone else or anywhere else but here? It is his love that makes you REAL. And just as it took some time of being loved for the Velveteen Rabbit to become real it takes us time, maybe even a whole lifetime to allow the Lord to love us and make us REAL.

God is not a stuffed animal He is real. You too can be real if you let him love you. Let it begin this Easter Sunday and every Sunday.


  1. Excellent! I love this story and how you connected it to our Easter joy. Really cute. Joyce

  2. Powerful homily, Father Denk!
    I appreciate you bringing God to life for us...showing us how and where He is alive and real.
    Thank you, thank you for posting your homilies...I've read a few and plan on reading more this evening! So glad my mother-in-law gave me the link to your site!
    God Bless You! Dustine


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