At the end of His earthly life, Jesus repeated one theme over and over, above…
“My Beloved is a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.” The Bridegroom, Song of Songs 1:13
The Cross of my Bridegroom is the sachet of myrrh lying within my heart. I am reminded of this sachet of myrrh every time I make the Sign of the Cross and whisper to my Beloved to please seal me in the love of my Triune Spouse and let me not forget that our marriage bed is made of wood.
Why do I smile as I remember this? Not because I love suffering but because I know that the Cross of Christ my Bridegroom is first our marriage bed… the place of our union’s fruitfulness… and it is the doorway to our eternal joy, to our eternal wedding feast.
The Bridegroom of The Song, Christ, describes with what willingness and eros He will embrace the marriage bed of the Cross in several verses. Here are just two:
“Before the dawn-wind rises, before the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh, to the hill of frankincense.” (4:6)
“‘I will climb the palm tree,’ I resolved, ‘I will seize its clusters of dates.’” (7:9)
Why was He so eager to mount the marriage bed of the Cross? Love and desire for union with YOU – this is the force that drove Christ to embrace the myrrh of suffering. “…for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2) Once I came to truly believe in the heart of my heart that Christ embraced His suffering for love of me and that it was eros, the force that impels the Lover to move outside Himself towards the beloved, that drove Him into the womb of Mary, and into His Passion and Death, my love for Him grew in leaps and bounds. My love of God was transformed into eros, a force that now drives me outside myself and always towards the One Whom I love. The strength of His love in me is consolation and motivation to endure whatever suffering may come my way.
And this realization that His love is the pain reliever I seek in all my suffering led me to discover another meaning of myrrh in The Song. I learned that myrrh was not only used in preparation for burial but also as an analgesic.
“Myrrh, a fragrant gum resin, comes from a small bushy tree (Commiphora myrrha), cultivated in ancient times in the Arabian Peninsula. The grower made a small cut in the bark, where the gum resin would leak out. It was then collected and stored for about three months until it hardened into fragrant globules. Myrrh was used raw or crushed and mixed with oil to make a perfume. It was also used medicinally to reduce swelling and stop pain.
… naturopathic doctors claim several health benefits associated with myrrh essential oil, including improved heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.”
(Source: itmonline.org and The Bible Almanac, edited by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White Jr.)
The Bridegroom was offered wine mixed with myrrh as He suffered the torture of crucifixion. He refused to drink. The Bridegroom of our souls embraced the myrrh of suffering and death and refused the myrrh of consolation. How can we doubt that He is one with us in our suffering, that He is unafraid, unashamed, to endure torture and pain with us and for us? “My Beloved is a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.” Jesus, my crucified Beloved, has imprinted Himself on my heart to be my strength in times of trial.
And, at the same time, He offers me the “kisses of His mouth” (1:2), His “lips that are lilies distilling pure myrrh” (5:13), to be my comfort, my consolation, my analgesic, as we suffer together.
In chapter 5 of The Song of Songs, the Bride describes her hands dripping with myrrh. Only a soul who has known the kisses of the Bridegroom has hands that drip with His myrrh.
“Pure myrrh ran off my hands, pure myrrh off my fingers, onto the handle of the bolt.” The Bride, 5:5
The kisses of His consolations, His Presence, His Word, His Spirit of Peace, are all analgesics. They comfort us in our suffering just as myrrh relieves physical pain. And as transforming union deepens and the soul and the Bridegroom become inseparable then His myrrh becomes our myrrh and pure myrrh drips from our hands, our lives, to comfort and console others.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Dearest Bridegroom of our souls, may You ever be a sachet of myrrh between our breasts, Your cross forever engraved on our hearts. Kiss us with the kisses of your mouth so we may drink of the pure myrrh dripping from your lips. As You are our succor in the sufferings of this life, may we share the comfort we receive from You with the suffering souls you entrust to us. Amen.