Jan 18, 2016

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” The Sacred Scriptures and the Church Fathers, following the Sacred Scriptures, find no better imagery to express the love of God towards humanity and the depth of the union which he desires with us than the imagery of Holy Matrimony. Even the Incarnation, the taking up of our flesh into union with the Divine Person, is described in nuptial imagery by St. Augustine: “When the Word was made flesh he was like a bridegroom who found himself a bridal chamber in a virgin’s womb. Once wedded to human nature he came forth from that purest of all rooms, humbler in mercy than all others, stronger than all in majesty.” Even the Cross is replete with nuptial imagery. In the book of Genesis God put Adam into a sleep so that he might fashion for him a suitable partner and so Eve was born from the side of the first man. Just so on the Cross, our Savior permitted his sacred side to be pierced and the Church was born from the heart of our Redeemer.

This is the mystery presented to us in the Gospel. The mystery of marriage given as a gift to humanity in the Garden of Eden was not lost on account of original sin. It was not washed away in the flood. And it was chosen by our Divine Savior as the setting for the first of his miracles. At the Wedding Feast of Cana, he “revealed his glory and his disciples began to believe in him.” What came before in the natural gift of marriage is now raised in dignity to a sacrament, a covenant of love, through which God gives us grace. The new blessing is even greater than the original blessing – he has kept the good wine until now. Yet somehow we have lost a sense of the beauty of the gift. We have reduced our estimation of marriage to something that we may choose to do and to undo. We think that the gift is at our disposal – to decide in what it consists, or in what manner it may be entered, or whether and when it should be fruitful. We reduce it to a mere human institution and such institutions grow decrepit, forget their purposes and change their meanings. Soon it can no longer bear the weight of the Divine Glory, and so we miss the loveliness and the faithfulness of God’s desire to be united with us.

God desires you for himself. And he promises eternal faithfulness to you. In the Song of Songs, the bride says of the bridegroom: “My beloved is mine and I am his.” And the language is stronger than the translation expresses it. “My beloved belongs to me, and I to him in such a way that I no longer know where I begin and he ends or where he begins and I end. God is, so to speak, enraptured with you. Anything that is his, he would give you to capture your heart. He would go to the ends of the earth to prove his love for you. He would come down from heaven, become your servant, even die for you: all so that you may possess his own glory – the gift of his Holy Spirit. The communion of the Holy Spirit, the word for communion is koinonia, another way to translate it is “intimacy.” It is this intimacy with God through the Holy Spirit that is expressed in the fruitfulness of the gifts, some of which St. Paul lists: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment, varieties of tongues and their interpretation.

And our sins are not stronger than his love: for his love is stronger even than death. No matter how often or how far from him we go, he will seek us out. He will call out to us from his heart with mercy, grace, faithfulness and love. Today renew your covenant with him in Holy Communion, seek new intimacy and deeper union with him. Invite him into your hearts. Receive the gift of his own heart. Listen carefully for the sounds of his love: “This is my body which will be given up for you; This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant.” And then tell him that you love him, for that is what he best likes to hear.

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