When my wife and I got married we received many gifts. A group of my mom’s friends gave us what we thought was a pious, if not most unusual gift: a crucifix. With it was a card that read, “every time you gaze on this cross, remember that this is how you must love each other.”
Of course this is a reference to what we spoke about last week
. Paul tells the Ephesians that husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the Church. How did Christ love the Church? Totally? He gave his life for her.
Christ wants to abide with us and in us. He wants to give us his life. He wants to be with us forever in eternity. Not just with “all of us” together – but intimately, personally, with each one of us, in a way that only God can be with us intimately – the way that the Holy Trinity is intimate. Our minds can’t fully comprehend that – that’s why Paul says that it is a “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32). But we can partly understand it. The closest analogy of that union is Marriage.
With all the Sacraments, beginning with Baptism, we are being brought more and more into the very life of the Trinity. We are not just being given life, but we are brought into the total-love-give-and-take-dance of the Trinity. God wants to be united to us, in Communion with us, in the same way that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are in Communion with each other. Marriage is an earthly sign of that heavenly union and so is the Eucharist.
Every Mass is a wedding banquet. Every one of us, as we approach the Eucharistic altar should approach as a bride to her wedding. I never really thought of myself as the Bride of Christ, but that is what I am. That is what we are. That is what God wants us to be.
And so all kinds of questions come to mind: How do I approach the Eucharist? How do I prepare for Mass? How much time do I spend in prayer before and after receiving the Eucharist? Am I conscious of taking Jesus with me in my daily life after receiving Him in the Eucharist?
These are all questions that a bride and groom consider as they approach their wedding day: “How are we preparing? What music and flowers will we have? Where will the reception be? Who are we inviting? More importantly, how am I preparing for this Marriage that will last for the rest of my life? And maybe some of those questions that we don’t share out loud: How anxious am I? How much am I looking forward to our wedding night? How excited am I to consummate our marriage?
How many of us teared up while exchanging our vows on our wedding day? I did. (actually, both my wife and I teared up while going through the vows at the rehearsal!) How many of us tear up when receiving Christ in the Eucharist? How many of us tear up when we hear Him say, “Take and eat; this is my body”? Those are his words of consecration. Those are his words of consummation.
The crucifix that was given to us on our wedding hangs proudly in our kitchen. I have the opportunity to gaze upon it many times a day, every day. Every time I do, I am reminded of how much God loves me and I am reminded of that total love and total union to which I am called. Every time I receive the Eucharist I am reminded of Christ’s total sacrifice, his total self-giving on the Cross and I am brought into Communion with Christ.
That’s why I love the Song of the Cross
that was written by Susan Hookong-Taylor and Ana Da Costa for World Youth Day 2002: “Love, lifted on the Cross for me; my Lord, my God, my Salvation. Love, lifted high to set me free, my Lord, my God, my Salvation.” The Cross is a symbol of love. The Eucharist is love. In Marriage, we come closest to living that love.
This is the conclusion of a ten-part series on marriage. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.
Please, write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org
) or reach me via twitter (@deaconpedrogm) and let me know your thoughts on all this. Next week, as we begin to prepare for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, let’s look closer at love and what love means.
Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: