Christ, Our Beloved Bridegroom
Monday, May 10, 2021
If we could glimpse the panoramic view of the biblical revelation and the Big Picture of which we are a part, we’d see how God is forever evolving human consciousness, making us ever more ready for God. The Hebrew prophets and many Catholic and Sufi mystics used words like espousal, marriage, or bride and groom to describe this phenomenon. That’s what the prophet Isaiah (61:10, 62:5), many of the Psalms, the school of Paul (Ephesians 5:25–32), and the Book of Revelation (19:7–8, 21:2) mean by “preparing a bride to be ready for her husband.” It has nothing to do with gender and everything to do with the human soul that is being gradually readied so that espousal and full partnership with the Divine are the final result. It’s all moving toward a marriage between God and creation. Note that such salvation is a social and cosmic concept, and not just about isolated individuals “going to heaven.” The church was meant to bring this corporate salvation to conscious and visible possibility.
Could divine marriage and intimacy really be God’s plan? Or is this just poetic exaggeration? If this is the divine agenda, why were most of us presented with an angry deity who needed to be placated and controlled? And why would such a God even want to “marry” God’s creation? I don’t think I am stretching the point. Look for all the times Jesus uses a wedding banquet as his image for eternity, and how he loves to call himself “the bridegroom” (Mark 2:19–20). Why would Jesus choose such metaphors if they weren’t deeply true? The very daring, seemingly impossible idea of union with God is still something we’re so afraid of that most of us won’t allow ourselves to even think in that direction. The Eastern Church developed this idea in their theology of divinization (theosis) much better than the Western Church, and we are all much poorer for our loss.
Only God in you will allow you to imagine such a possibility, which is precisely “the Holy Spirit planted in your heart” (Romans 8:11 and throughout Paul’s letters).
Jesus came to give us the courage to trust and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not merely a place we go to later—as long as we are good. Union is the place we come from, the place we’re called to live from now. At the end, the fitting conclusion of the “Second Coming of Christ” is that humanity becomes “a beautiful bride all dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2), with Jesus Christ as the Eternal Divine Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; John 3:29) waiting for all of us at the altar.
The clear goal and direction of biblical revelation is toward a full, mutual indwelling. The eternal mystery of incarnation will have finally met its mark, and “the marriage feast of the Lamb will begin” (Revelation 19:7–9). History is no longer meaningless but has a promised and positive direction. This creates very healthy, happy, hopeful, and generative people, the ones we surely need right now. All I know for certain is that a good God creates and continues to create an ever-good world, by enticing it back into the place where it began.
Adapted from Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, ed. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018), 251–252, 253, 254.
Story from Our Community:
Having experienced profound mystical experiences, I felt frightened and alone. As time passed, I began to understand that I was on the mystics path, and was not alone. Friar Richard Rohr has served as a beacon of light for me. I find great joy in knowing that I am not alone, but am holding the mystic path with many other souls, as we work together bringing forth the Christ consciousness of unity. —Ruth B.H.