Seeking a Bride

(January 20, 2019)

Bottom line: Jesus comes to save. He is seeking a bride who he himself forms.

Last week we saw that although we talk about human goodness, we know that on some level we are not OK. For that reason we need Jesus, we need a savior, we need the rebirth of baptism. Jesus comes to save us. As we say in the Creed, "for us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven." The word "men" of course includes women and children. Like we say in the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal..." It means everyone. Jesus desires the salvation of all.

Today we see another way of looking at why Jesus came. I hope this won't sound flippant, but not only does Jesus come to save, he comes to seek a bride.

We can see this in our reading from Isaiah. Bishop Robert Barron observes that this reading shows the "uniquely biblical view of God." He is not a deistic God who winds up the universe and lets it go. Nor is he an indifferent force as in the nature mysticism you see in movies like Avatar and Star Wars. No, the Bible shows God active and passionate. Today we hear him say to Israel, "No more shall people call you 'Forsaken' or your land 'Desolate'". Instead "you shall be called 'My Delight' and your land 'Espoused'". Then he says, "As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you."

So God wishes to form Israel as his bride. That's precisely what we see Jesus doing. Toward the beginning of Mark's Gospel, they ask Jesus why his disciples do not fast. He responds with a question, "Can the wedding guests fast when the bridegroom is with them?" Jesus is not simply one more prophet. He is the embodiment of the God of Israel. He come to seek a bride.

This helps explain why Jesus performs his first miracle at a wedding feast. It's strange when you think about it. He puts on hold all the sick, the crippled, the lepers, all those gripped by demons. And what does Jesus do? He makes wine. He does it to prevent a social disaster. Jewish weddings lasted several days and if the wine runs out, people will just drift away, leaving the newly married couple embarrassed and humiliated.

So Mary says to Jesus, "they have no wine." This refers to more than fermented grape juice. Bishop Barron points out that in the Bible wine is a sign of the exuberance and intoxication of divine life. Isaiah 25 speaks about a heavenly banquet with "juicy meat and pure choice wine". That wine is the intoxication of God's presence.

At Mary's request Jesus does something unexpected. Women often reset the script for men. We can see this even in Jesus' ministry. At Mary's request Jesus performs his first miracle. And what a miracle! Six stone water jars each holding 20 to 30 gallons. Let's split the difference and say 25. That's 150 gallons of pure, choice wine.

Jesus loves young married couples. I tell young people: Do not be afraid. Follow what's deepest in your heart. Invite Jesus and his mother into your marriage and family. Troubles will come, but if you trust Jesus and ask Mary to intercede, they will help you.

To sum up: Jesus comes to save. He is seeking a bride who he himself forms. We'll see more next Sunday as we hear St. Paul say, "You are Christ's body and individually parts of it." Today let's recognize that God is much more than Aristotle's Unmoved Mover* or the Clock-maker who winds the universe up and lets it go. Nor is he some indifferent force. No, he's like that young man who marries a virgin. Jesus comes to seek a bride. Amen.


*Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made this point: "The thing that must always console us is that as we struggle, we do not struggle alone. And there is something in our Christian faith to remind us of this: The God that we worship is not some Aristotelian "unmoved mover" who merely contemplates upon himself. He's not merely a self-knowing God, but He's an other-loving God working through history for the salvation of his children." cf. MLK's address to the Methodist Student Movement

Spanish Version

From Archives (Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C):

2016: New Beginning: Marriage
2013: Why Jesus Loves Marriage
2010: Each Holding Twenty to Thirty Gallons
2004: We’re Eating Grass!
2001: Like a Bridegroom
2005 (Year A): Most Shocking
2004 (Year C): With Whom I Am Well Pleased
2003 (Year B): The Membership
2002 (Year A): The Grace of Baptism
2000 (Year B): Limits of Solidarity

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Summer - Kings and Prophets*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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