Union With God
by Fr. Godfrey Bushmaker, O.Praem.
“It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.” Words taken from today’s first reading.
When I was in high school, I recall overhearing the senior prom committee discussing what song to use for the prom’s theme. In less than a minute they decided on “Faithfully” by the band Journey. The chorus goes something like: “Girl, you stand by me because I’m forever yours faithfully.” I didn’t hear their reasons for picking that song, but I suspect it hinged on that word “forever.” They would not have picked it if they sang instead: “stand by me because I’m yours . . . for the weekend” or “until I find something better” or “until we re-evaluate our situation.”
No, even high school students know that the ideal relationship to strive for is a lifelong, exclusive, self-giving commitment—even though, in their impatience and under peer pressure, they often settle for something far less. Pope John Paul II once said, “young people desire a beautiful love.” And there’s nothing more beautiful than the committed love between a husband and wife who are happy to bear the fruit of that love—that is, children.
That God created us male and female is more than simply a biological fact necessary for perpetuating the species. Scripture indicates its more fundamental significance where it says: “God made them male and female and for this reason a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife.” The parental bond is secondary to a deeper bond which is sought and desired through the very fact of the other’s existence.
The attraction men and women feel for each other is part of the human nature God gave us—not a result of the fall. Men and women were meant to complement each other in God’s plan. One doesn’t have to be married to see that men and women are different and benefit from having the other around. Although we’re complete persons all by ourselves, we’re capable of reflecting a higher reality through marriage—both through reflecting the life of the Blessed Trinity and by reflecting God’s personal relationship with each of us.
Adam, the first man, was happy and whole—but also quite alone. To remedy this, God raised up Eve from Adam’s opened side. In this, Adam’s solitude ended and his wholeness was, in a certain sense, divided into the small community of male and female—ever after to complement and completeeach other when lawfully joined together.
Man was made in the image of God not only by possessing a spiritual component, but also, in his generation. As the Second Person of the Trinity is eternally begotten from the Father, so Eve was begotten from the side of Adam—and like the Father and Son, they delight in their mutual love for one another. Then, as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the spiraling love between the Father and Son, so children proceed from a marital love between spouses.
The other reality marriage reflects is our Lord’s relationship to our soul. The prophets frequently referred to God as the “bridegroom” and Israel as His “bride.” When our Lord came, He proclaimed Himself the bridegroom. He loves each soul with the passion of a bridegroom for his bride. The joyful union of a husband and wife is the closest symbol we have of our heavenly union with God. This is what the lifelong, exclusive commitment of husband and wife is meant to foreshadow: the union of Christ and His Church at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb.
Our Lord doesn’t court us for a weekend, until something better comes along or until He re-evaluates the situation. He’s already loved us for an eternity and loves us more than we can imagine. In fact, the word “love” is wholly inadequate to describe God’s affection for us—but it’s sufficient for us to understand that it’s not to be rejected or taken for granted.
Let us pray that we would revere and promote in society the holy bond of matrimony which God established for us. May married couples strive to live their vows in conformity with what they symbolize: that union between our individual soul and our loving God—a unity we’re destined to celebrate with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength forever.
You may have noticed that Jesus very often gives a teaching or tells a parable and then… falls silent. He often doesn’t explain or elaborate when you would expect Him to. He expects His hearers to interpret the silence and draw the right conclusion.
Thomas is frequently the object of much opprobrium for his disbelief, as if all of us who enjoy pointing the finger at him aren’t more guilty than he was. And yet he is rightly blamed. He refused to believe not only all the other Apostles but even the Mother of God, who, since she was in the care of John, was also among them and testifying to the truth of the resurrection.
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