Daily Thought For February 16, 2018
Preparing For The Wedding Feast
“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”
Today’s reference to the bridegroom is one of many uses of marriage imagery in the Gospels. Jesus refers to himself as the “bridegroom” and tells a parable about a king who threw a wedding banquet for his son. In another passage, the familiar story of the wise and foolish virgins also centers on the arrival of the bridegroom. Those who were ready went in with him to celebrate the wedding feast. In John’s Gospel the Baptist declares: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete” (Jn 3:29). A major wedding connection is also made in the Gospel of John with the marriage feast at Cana, when Jesus turned water into wine. In the Old Testament we find the Song of Songs and, in the prophets, the heart-rending love God has for his people who turned away from him adulterously to follow false idols.
Augustine also used this nuptial imagery, speaking of Jesus’ coming into the world in terms of marriage. For Augustine this imagery of bride and bridegroom is a symbol of Jesus’ spousal desire for us, his love that blindly gives itself over to union whatever the cost, the beginning of a love affair born in eternity, to be consummated on the marriage bed of the cross, and finally raised in glory to the right hand of the Father.
When disciples fast today, it is a fasting of faith because Jesus has ascended into heaven. More than the lack of food, it is the absence of the sight of the bridegroom. It is a continual search for him and a longing for his return. Fasting from food, from TV, from complaining, or whatever else we decide to fast from, is a discipline that helps us keep focused on why we are here: we are invited to a forever wedding feast, not simply as a guest, but as the bride.
Jesus, when we could not come to you, you came to us to forge an unbreakable bond between us and God, a bond of love that will last for eternity. At the beginning of these days of penitence, I feel this bond strengthening. I feel that you care about me and my life. I feel that you want me to realize how close you are to me. Help me to let go of whatever habits have become obstacles to living in your presence.
You have come into the world as to a marriage.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 10–11). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.