A friend and I were recently together during Adoration and she said to…
“Return, return, O maid of Shulam. Return to My merciful Love.” Has this not been God’s consistent call to His people throughout history? His chosen ones, the Israelites, wandered away from His love, proving themselves to be unfaithful brides of His spousal covenant, time after time.
“For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.” (Hosea 4:12) and “But you have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1).
When the Bridegroom of Yahweh, Jesus, lived amongst them, many closed their hearts to His love and even His disciples were unfaithful during His time of trial. And throughout the ages, every human person who has given their heart to Jesus, despite their desire for spiritual perfection, has committed sins of infidelity, for every sin is in fact a choosing of something other than God. Concupiscence is sadly an inherent quality of our fallen human nature. And no one knows this better than our Bridegroom.
The comforting and hopeful theme of the Bridegroom’s merciful Love in The Song of Songs has been at the heart of my prayer over the past few weeks. As I have meditated on The Song, placing myself in the character of the Bride and Jesus as the Bridegroom, I have noticed that the Bridegroom only and always responds to the Bride with mercy, forgiveness, patience and love. There is no doubt that the Bride, the maid of Shulam, loves her Bridegroom and desires union with Him. And yet even after “the summer of the wedding”, she fails to open the door of her heart to His gentle knocking.
The Bridegroom’s response proves He is no ordinary lover. He does not complain, coerce, guilt or manipulate. Nor does He become angry and force His way into her heart. He turns and walks away. And when she returns to Him she finds that He was there in the garden of her heart all along, “Which way did your Beloved turn so that we can help you look for him? My Beloved went down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to pasture his flock in the gardens and gather lilies” (6:1-2). He hid not to punish or discipline His bride, but to cause her to seek Him and willingly choose love. He rejoices in her return and comments only on her beauty, “You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love, fair as Jerusalem” (6:4).
The Bridegroom of our souls loves each of us with this same merciful Love. No matter our sins, our failings and weaknesses, our infidelities, He waits patiently for our return. And when we do return to Him, asking forgiveness and opening our wounds to His healing gaze, He immediately rejoices and lavishes us with love and mercy. Our sins are forgiven; we are reconciled; our wounds are transformed into jewels. And so, the theme of the Bride’s inconstant and wandering heart becomes a celebration of the Bridegroom’s merciful Love. And what was asked of the Bride in order to be so tenderly loved? The Bridegroom requires nothing save her having the humility to return and receive His incomprehensible merciful Love.
As I pondered this awesome truth, I was inspired to write a prayer acknowledging my infidelities to my Bridegroom, expressing my sorrow for my sins and faults, and celebrating His merciful Love and forgiveness. The Chaplet of the Bridegroom’s Merciful Love is a duet sung by the hearts of the bride and the Bridegroom. I have found praying it as an examination of conscience at the end of the day to be fruitful and comforting. I share this prayer of my heart with you in hopes that you too will allow the Divine Bridegroom to teach you to be patient with yourself as He is patient with you; to see your sins and imperfections as opportunities to return to Him and ask for healing and forgiveness; and to respond to His merciful Love with humility and gratitude. May praying with The Song of Songs cause you to fall more deeply in love with our beloved Jesus.
Copyright 2021, Laura Ercolino