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Being the Bride of Christ our Bridegroom

I am a bride.
Christ is my Bridegroom.
The Bridegroom of my soul. My eternal Bridegroom.
No matter what my vocation or state in life.

What do these phrases, these realities stir up in your heart and mind? Do we believe
we are bride, and that Christ is our Bridegroom? For some of us, to think of Jesus
Christ as our Bridegroom is very new and may strike us in a strange way. To
understand this transcendent, infinite, omnipotent God of ours, He came down to us
and took on our flesh, our humanity, so we could touch and know and experience
Him. The transcendent becomes tangible. The infinite becomes finite. The Father
reveals Himself through the Son, Jesus Christ, so we could know the love of the
Father for each of us. And who is the Son? He is the Bridegroom seeking His bride,
loving His bride, thirsting for His bride.

God wants to marry us. Even more specifically and tenderly, God wants to marry
you. Me. The whole of Scripture is a love story, a wedding story. From the
beginning: God creating man and woman to commune as one flesh in His Love… To
the end in Revelations: the wedding feast of the Lamb has begun and the bride is
prepared to welcome Him, alleluia! And then smack dab in the middle of our bibles,
literally in the center of the bible, is the Song of Songs: the romantic love duet of the
Bridegroom and the Bride. God is singing to us: I want to marry you! I am coming
for you! I am here! I want to love you and rescue you and espouse you to myself!
Will you say yes? Please say yes! I thirst for you, my beautiful bride! My perfect
one, my dove, my lovely unique one, come!

How do we come as bride? We come as little brides at our Baptism!
Jesus has already loved us since before we were conceived in our mother’s womb,
He knew us and cherished us, and He has now set Himself as a seal on our hearts.
At our baptism, we were sealed with the indelible mark of belonging to Christ,
consecrated and set apart for God – anointed, and clothed in our wedding
garment. As the waters of Baptism washed over us, we were cleansed by the
nuptial bath and made ready to partake of the wedding feast of the Eucharist,
when the Bridegroom gives Himself, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to you
and “the two become one flesh.”

This is real. This is not a myth, or merely an analogy. It is physical, tangible, real in
the Heart of Christ, pouring forth for us from His Side, from the marriage bed of the
Cross, under which we stand with Mary, our Blessed Mother. Mary is the perfect
bride of God. The perfect spouse of the Holy Spirit. At the Annunciation, Heaven
asks her through the Angel Gabriel, if she will open to conceive the Christ Child
within her. She gives her fiat: “Yes, may it be done unto me according to Thy Word.”
The Holy Spirit overshadowed her and conceived God-in-the-flesh within her womb.

Her yes continues to the foot of the Cross, where she says yes to the outpouring gift
of Jesus as Bridegroom, gushing with life-giving Love, the fountain of blood and
water flowing from His Side. Mary remains standing, with her open chalice heart to
receive this love, this mercy, this redemptive stream. Mary is at the same time
mother of Christ as man and mystically the bride of Christ as God. These are great
mysteries. But we can turn to Mary, our gentle mother and model bride, to teach us
how to give our fiat, how to open our hearts to say yes to the Holy Spirit’s desire to
conceive Christ’s life within us and to stand at the foot of the marriage bed of the
Cross, opening wide our hearts, with her, to receive Christ’s ever-flowing font of
infinite love and mercy for us. ‘Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it,’ says the
Lord.” With honey from the rock. With the sweetness of His love, flowing from the
cleft in the rock, His pierced Sacred Heart.

Missionaries of Charity co-founding priest says what is Jesus’ main thirst? It is that
we allow Him to love us. Christ, as the Bridegroom of the Church, loves each and every one of us with
perfect, self-giving, sacrificial, compassionate, tender, passionate Love. Christ gives
His very body to us, His beloved, as a bridegroom gives his body to his bride. To fill
her, to give her new life, to minister to her and love her.
Christ loves us with pure spousal love: total, faithful, free, fruitful.
In essence, Christ has made a marriage proposal to each and every baptized
Christian, man and woman. He awaits our free response. And He offers us His very
body at the Altar: This is my body given up for you.” At every Mass, as we walk up
the aisle to receive Him, the spiritual reality is that our humble, vulnerable,
Bridegroom, Lover of our souls, is waiting there for us asking again if we will receive
Him as our first love above all else. When we say Amen to the words, “Body of
Christ” we are not only saying “Yes. I believe in the True Presence” but in essence we
are also saying, “I do. I give my body and my heart to You Jesus. I receive You with
love and I give myself to you in love.”

What does it mean to be bride of Christ then?
To open our hearts to His love, mercy, and grace. To say YES to letting Him love us
and rescue us and redeem us. To allow Jesus to wrap us in His garment of grace and
dignity and honor, protection, and tenderness. It means to give Him permission to
enter us and dwell within us and become intimately one with us, in our hearts and
through the Eucharist, through the unique love duet of our lives united to Him. To
live His life within and through us. To live our lives in intimate communion and
union with Him, so that my to-do list becomes our to-love list. What are we going to
do together today, Lord? How are we going to love together today, Lord? Together
let us be one. Together let us love, in each encounter we have today. To be bride of
Christ is to join our raw, naked yearnings, our passion and craving to His. To follow
in His footsteps, to allow Him to draw us in His movements and gestures and
pathways of love, to go to the lowly and brokenhearted with Him. To be the bride of
Christ is to bring our lowliness and poverty and ache and need to Him, to bring our
broken betrayed hearts to Him. He thirsts for us just as we are. And we thirst for
Him. To be bride of Christ is to go like the Samaritan woman to the well with our
buckets of thirst and say, Lord, the cistern is deep. And to hear Him say to us,
“Please give me a drink of water.” To quench His thirst by letting Him quench ours.
We thirst to be loved. He thirsts to love. We are a match made in Heaven!

Lord Jesus, Bridegroom of my soul, yes, come love me! Mary, mother of the
Bridegroom, perfect Bride, and mother of me, the little bride, share with me your
yes! Yes to honey from the Rock! Yes to being the beloved. Yes to the wedding feast
of the Lamb!

Copyright 2023 – Marian West

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