In today’s Gospel, Jesus responds to the Pharisees question with a question.
“The scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘The disciples of John the Baptist fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.’”
His question, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the Bridegroom is with them?” has led my heart to reflect on the ways in which the Bridegroom is indeed with me and how can my heart offer Him a wedding feast.
The Bride and The Bridegroom in The Song of Songs describe their love for one another in terms of a banquet, in images of fine wine and delicious foods, through the delight of all their senses. The saints understood these images and analogies as describing the ways in which God and our souls relate and come into union with Jesus the Bridegroom.
One of my favorite passages from The Cantata of Love describes the wedding feast that our hearts can offer to the Bridegroom.
The Song of Songs
4:16 Let my Beloved come into his garden, let him taste its rarest fruits.
5:1 I come into my garden, my sister, my promised bride, I gather my myrrh and balsam, I eat my honey and my honeycomb, I drink my wine and my milk.
“This is the hour of the wedding banquet and of consummated love. Origen attempts—not without a certain humor—to transpose in terms of evangelical virtues this prestigious menu: “Tell me”, he asks, “what princely dishes will be served to the guests. Well, first will come peace; then and all together humility, patience, meekness and sweetness; for a dessert of exquisite sweetness, purity of heart. But the main course of the banquet will be love.”
This banquet, different from what we have seen so far in the Bible, is offered by the Bride to her Bridegroom. We had indeed read in Isaiah: “On this mountain, Yahweh Sabaoth will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wines, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines” (Is 25:6). But this is totally new. The Bridegroom knows the joy of the banquet that has been prepared and already can tell his love: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink” (Mt 25:35). (Pp. 230-231 The Cantata of Love)
It is in the school of the Bridegroom that our Mother Mary teaches us how to grow in these virtues so our hearts might truly be prepared for the wedding feast of union with Jesus the Bridegroom of our souls.
Together in His Heart,