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Rejoice, the Bridegroom is Here
Friday after Ash Wednesday
Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to recognize you as the bridegroom, who woos my heart and invites me to a deeper union with you. Grant that I may rejoice at your presence in my life.
- Recognizing the Bridegroom: This passage is not so much about rules of fasting as it is about recognizing who Jesus is. Jesus is the bridegroom. In the Old Testament, God made a covenant with his people. The covenant, more than a mutual agreement, was a spousal-like commitment between God and his people that culminated with Jesus’s loving self-gift on the Cross. Salvation history is a love story between God and us. Hosea revealed God’s intention. “I will betroth you to me forever: I will betroth you to me with justice and with judgment, with loyalty and with compassion; I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall know the Lord. I will say to Not-My-People, ‘You are my people,’ and he will say, ‘My God!’” (Hosea 2:21-22, 25). The loving union God desires with me is possible only in and through Jesus Christ, the bridegroom.
- Rejoicing in the Presence of the Bridegroom: The Incarnation, the hypostatic union of human and divine nature in the very person of the Son of God, is reason to rejoice. Elizabeth rejoiced and John the Baptist leapt for joy at the approach of Jesus in the womb of Mary. The angels rejoiced at the birth of Jesus. My heart rejoices that my bridegroom is present to me through the sacraments, in nature, in my loving relationships with others, when two or more are gathered in his name, and each morning in my daily prayer. How blessed I am to be the bride of Christ, the beloved daughter of the Father, a soul called to union with the triune God.
- Anticipation of the Bridegroom’s Final Coming: While the bridegroom has already come, we are told to anticipate his final coming. Jesus warns us of the danger of not having our lamps lit and ready. He invites us to have a vigilant spirit (Matthew 25:1-13). Vigilance is a disposition we foster daily, not out of fear for the end of the world, but in anticipation of a consummating union of the bridegroom with the bride. Until Jesus comes again, we unite ourselves to the Bridegroom in a privileged way in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the kiss of heaven and earth, the meeting place of our human misery with the divine gift of the Son of God. He comes as the bridegroom to unite himself to us in his precious Body, Blood, soul, and divinity.
Conversing with Christ: Come Lord Jesus! Come as the bridegroom of my soul. Grant that I may be vigilant, watching for your presence in my daily life, especially in the Eucharist.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to how I can rejoice at your coming through the grace you offer me.
For Further Reflection: Jesus as the Bridegroom by Brant Pitre, https://catholicproductions.com/products/jesus-the-bridegroom; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olsXrkWAEa8.
written by Jennifer Ristine