Today is the Feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle. Perhaps because this Apostle is said to have been born at Cana, the place of the wedding where Christ performed His first public miracle, that the First Reading was chosen for the Feast’s Mass as particularly appropriate. And as I read this passage from the Book of Revelation (21:9-14), I could not help but think of my two friends who are preparing to sacramentalize their union this evening:
The angel spoke to me, saying,
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
That’s us, you know. The new Jerusalem is us, the Body of Christ perfected and glorified by God, with the children of Israel as the gates and the Apostles of Christ as the foundation. God’s covenants with His people have been likened for over 3000 years to a marriage bond: God and His people are one, in everlasting faithfulness and service to each other. First with Abraham, then through Moses with Israel, then with David, all the way down to the new covenant through Christ’s sacrifice with all who accept that sacrifice, it was understood that in the very act of making the covenant God loves His people as a bridegroom loves his bride: powerfully enough and wholly enough that He joins Himself to them by Name, by Word, for ever. This is why Christ was so adamantly opposed to the idea of divorce, so insistent upon the fact that in marriage the bride and groom “are no longer two, but one flesh.” Just like a city built with a massive high wall and a strong foundation, “what God has joined together no human being must separate.” The acts of God last for as long as God wills–and in the case of His Word, just as with the marriage bond, He wills that the bond last for all time.
So blessings and congratulations to Bobby and Fran. May you remain steadfast in your Christian bond, and may your shared life “gleam with the splendor of God.” 🙂