Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

It is Consummated

It is Consummated

The Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  The Lord God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man…That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh. – Genesis 2:21,22, 24
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I speak in reference to Christ and the Church. – Ephesians 5:31,32
One of the most important truths that so many people miss is that Christ and the Church are wed.  Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride.  Oftentimes we hear that said, but we fail to contemplate what it really means.  It is so important to grasp this reality because if we miss it, we miss the heart of our relationship with God.
In the Old Testament, God constantly refers to Himself as Israel’s husband, so forcefully that, when the people fall into idolatry, He accuses them of adultery.  Consider the following passage from the prophet Hosea:
So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart…She shall respond there as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt.  On that day, says the Lord, she shall call me, “My husband,” and never again, “my baal.”…I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you will know the Lord.—Ch. 2
The Old Testament is filled with nuptial language to describe God’s relationship to His people.  So, when Jesus responded to the Pharisees’ challenge about fasting by asking, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” –  Luke 5:34; or when John the Baptist responded to questions about being the Messiah with the statement, “The one who has the Bride is the Bridegroom; the best man…rejoices greatly at the Bridegroom’s voice…He must increase and I must decrease;” – John 3:29, 30; the implications are clear.
Jesus, the God-Man, is the Bridegroom, and we, the Church, are His Bride.  It is so critical that we understand this, not only because when we do, so many of His teachings fall into place (the prohibition of contraception and the all-male priesthood being two that many people deride), but because without it, we do not have a complete understanding of who we are, or what marriage is.  (Archbishop Fulton Sheen reminds us that our relationship with God does not image human marriage; rather human marriage images our relationship with God.  Ephesians 3:15 says the same about fatherhood.)
Today, Good Friday, is the day that covenant between God and Man was consummated.  It was from the Cross that the Divine Bridegroom gave His Body to His Bride so that she might bear fruit.  As He did, he cried out, “It is consummated!”  And the new and eternal covenant between Christ and the Church was established.  The sign of that covenant, which provides for a renewal of the vows, is the Eucharist.
When God provided Adam his bride, He put him in a deep sleep, and from His side came Eve.  On the cross, Our Lord entered the sleep of death, and from His side flowed water and blood, symbols of the Church.
Water represents baptism, the sacrament by which we are incorporated into the Church, the Bride.  Blood is the Eucharist, that most Blessed Sacrament through which we and our Beloved become one flesh.  This indeed, is a great mystery, and it refers to Christ and the Church.
This Good Friday, as our insane culture debates the definition of marriage (as if any political institution has the power to redefine something defined by God), let us contemplate the true meaning of marriage, and that divine marriage of which every Christian marriage is a sign, and may we bear fruit.