Episode 31 – Marriage – Who is the bridegroom?

What is Marriage in the eyes of a Christian?

  • a covenant marriage made between one man and one woman, with God the creator of marriage at the center, with the purpose of the good of the spouses and for procreation 
    • For the good of the spouses – A path of holiness – true love requires sacrifice, and within marriage, spouses are called upon to lay their lives down for their spouse which is so much more than taking a bullet for your husband or wife. It’s about all those places in your relationship where you dodge the bullet of humility for the comfort of not being vulnerable. Spouses are called to image the love of Christ on the cross for the Church. 
    • Pro-creatrion of children. Traditionally this has been seen as the primary end of marriage, however it is generally not helpful to pit offspring against the good of the spouses, or to make it sound like one is more essential than the other. Both are of equal importance. 

What marriage is not – cultural context of the present 

  • It’s not just a legally binding contract that can be signed with a pen one day and torn the next. ‘ What God therefore has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6) – What God has joined can’t be torn simply, even if the paper that was signed can be, and even if we really REALLY want it to be possible.
    • In the old rite of Marriage in the Catholic church, when the man and woman join their right hands and exchange vows, the priest would wrap his stole around the hands of the man and woman. The stole (a scarf like vestment draped round the neck) represents the authority of Christ, and so wrapping the stole around the hands was a symbol that Christ was forging a bond through the consent of the man and woman.   
  • Being able to tear something apart so easily, might also suggest that it wasn’t bound so securely to begin with, and that’s just not God. 
  • Because Marriage also goes all the way back to understanding of Creation in Genesis, in the Marriage of Adam and Eve, it’s not something that can be changed to suit the cultural contexts as they morph and change over the years. 

We often talk about marriage being an icon of love: between Jesus and the Church. What do we mean?

A little history

Adam and Eve

  • God creates humanity through an intimate relationship (Adam falls into a deep sleep and Eve is created from his side, ‘bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh’ (Gen 2:23) and forms the first communion of persons with complementarity, made in his image and likeness – a co-union – Marriage – Then calls them to be fruitful and multiply.
    • St John Paul II actually calls the relationship between Adam and Eve a primordial sacrament because it was a covenantal bond which communicated grace. 
    • Mount Sinai – God makes a covenant between him and the people of Israel, after God has led them with Moses out of Egypt, out of slavery. He makes a covenant – a sacred family bond that is permanent and sacred. God then gives his people the healthy boundaries of their new family relationship (10 commandments) AND uniting the 12 tribes of Israel with a blood sacrifice, becomes a flesh and blood relationship, and they mark this with a feast – a banquet. The prophets talk about what happened here as a wedding between God and his people, with God being the divine bridegroom, and Israel the bride.
      • What we see shortly after, is the repercussion of what happened in the garden of Eden – the fall. The people of Israel turned from the divine bridegroom and made a golden calf to worship. They understood human nature that needs to worship, that’s written on our very being, we will always worship if not God, then something. In a sense, Israel becomes an adulterer, and sins against her own divine bridegroom not once, but time and time again.
      • This is a frequent occurrence in Israel’s history. Israel is unfaithful and and God calls them back to himself. IN the book of the prophet hosea, the relationship between Hosea and the woman he wishes to marry is an image of the relationship between God and his people – his people being the unfaithful harlot and God being an ever faithful God.  
      • What we hear following on from Exodus is God, the divine Bridegroom’s relentless pursuit of his bride. That he will come and cleanse her, she will be forgiven and they will once more be united. 
    • The Passion and Death – What we see in Jesus is exactly this. The divine bridegroom has arrived to cleanse his bride the church (not just the people of Israel (literally) but all people), and unite us to himself in a new everlasting covenant. 
  • What does this mean for us eternally? 
    • It means that what we’ve been called into isn’t only a love of a creator for his creation or of a father and his children, but also of a bridegroom for his bride. We’re called into a spousal love where the everlasting covenant of marriage took place through Jesus, where we’ve been cleansed by living water through him, joined to him in a flesh and blood union in his sacrifice, and gift of himself to us and we await the wedding banquet of heaven when our lives on this earth have also been completely offered back to God.  
    • This is what is meant in Ephesians 5:21 when St Paul says Be subject to one another in obedience to Christ. Wives obey your husbands and husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church. There is a sense in which both must die to self to live for Christ so that they can serve each other. The wife is called to listen and respond in love to her husband (meaning obedience – ob audire) the husband must die to himself, be sensitive to his wife’s needs, listen to her wisdom, and lead as the head of the family. Together, they become a living icon of the relationship between Christ and his Church. 
    • The relationship between the celibate state and marriage
      • As a priest I am so encouraged by practicing married couples. They are an image of God’s love alive in the world. I hope that my priesthood is the same for them. 
  • Since marriage is meant to help us get to heaven, does this mean ‘I won’t be married to my spouse in heaven?’ 
    • Sacrament of marriage is for the good of the spouses and for procreation
      • If spouses have entered into heaven then their ultimate good has already come to be, they don’t need further purifying and sanctifying
      • Procreation is also linked to mortality – being mortal we keep humanity going, but heaven is immortality we have no need for procreation 
      • MOST importantly, we’ll be wedded and in perfect union with God himself, and our spouse will be perfectly united to God as well. So although we won’t have a sacramental marriage in heaven (we won’t need a sign there) we will be more intimately and perfectly united to our spouses in Heaven in and through God than ever possible on earth. 

TBG (Truth, Beauty, Goodness)

Padre: Generous parishioner who paid for the funeral of a woman who couldn’t afford a funeral.

Stina: Jesus the Bridegroom – the greatest love story ever told by Dr Brant Pitre

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