“You must learn to be a bride before you can become a bridegroom.”
These are the words Jesus spoke to me in prayer not even a week ago. When I first heard Him say this to me, I thought, you want me to be a what? But after some thought, I realized He was right.
In order to explain how this conversation came about, I have to first give you some context into how the Lord has been speaking to my heart lately.
Two weeks ago I wrote a talk for my youth night on the Sacrament of Marriage, something I am very passionate about. I talked to the high school youth about how God intended the Sacrament of Marriage to be a representation of the love of the Trinity…the Father loves the Son so much and the Son reciprocates that love so truly and completely that their love IS the Holy Spirit. In the same way, when a man and woman join together in the Sacrament of Marriage they are able to create another person with the help of God. A baby is literally the incarnation of their love just as the Holy Spirit is the incarnation of God’s love.
In beginning to write this talk I was reading through and praying with the story of Adam and Eve. It says in this story that God created man in His image and likeness, and if we take a second to think about what those two things look like, we will begin to understand more completely why the Sacrament of Marriage is the way that it is. The image and likeness of God is a Trinity of persons…a loving relationship…and out of that love He chose to create life (humanity) that could share in His relationship and in His Love. God created man out of a desire to share His own nature with us. And this is why Adam was discontented before God created Eve.
Before God made Eve, Adam was given charge over the garden, to care for it and to give names to all the animals. As He encountered each animal, He saw that each had a partner likened to itself that it could be in relationship with…but Adam did not. “None proved to be a suitable partner for the man.” (Genesis 2:20b) Since Adam was created in God’s image and likeness, he needed someone he could be in relationship with, could create life with (not just physical life), and who he could share the love of God with…because if God created man to share in His love, then it makes sense that man would desire to have someone he could share that love with also.
We must be still and let Him be our bridegroom.
So God created Eve from Adam’s side, and that is why Adam exclaims, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Genesis 2:23) Because he finally had someone to share God’s love and life with. However, Adam and Eve eventually lost sight of the beauty of their relationship and it’s connection to God’s love. So Jesus came to repair what was broken, and in His death on the cross we see how he connects it back to God’s original plan for Marriage.
Jesus is often referred to as the ‘New Adam’ because He came to repair the brokenness that Adams’ disobedience caused. So there must be some way that Jesus’ own story is connected to Adam’s. In Adam’s story it says that to form his bride “the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.” (Genesis 2:21) In a similar way, when Jesus is on the cross the Lord God cast a deep sleep on him…the sleep of death…and “one soldier thrust a lance into his side and immediately blood and water flowed out” (John 19:34) so that Jesus’ bride, the Church, could come from His sacrifice. In this we see that Jesus’ story is different than Adam’s.
Not only is Jesus completely obedient in His action, unlike Adam, but Genesis tells us that with Adams’ wounded side, God “closed up its place with flesh” and Jesus wounded side is left open, flowing blood and water. This is because in Adam’s sacrifice, the act was complete. God closed up Adam’s side with flesh because his bride was with him. However, Jesus’ bride is not yet with Him and is in fact still growing… WE are the Bride of Christ! And the flesh that was taken from His side is the same flesh that we receive in the Eucharist at every Catholic Mass!
Sometimes in the business of our lives, we lose sight of our role as Jesus’ bride. We want to be the bridegroom who pursues and gives and leads and acts, but He wants us to first become a bride who is pursued and receives and follows. We must be still and let Him be our bridegroom.
I would encourage you in those moments when you lose sight of who God has called you to be to look to the Blessed Mother. The woman who raised Jesus…who knew more than anyone else on earth about His life, love, and ministry…who was more qualified than anyone else to lead the Church…she takes the backseat and allows herself to be pursued by her Bridegroom. She surrenders herself to God’s will. Don’t be afraid to surrender yourself completely to His love. He knows the desires of your heart better than you do and He will fulfill them all according to His will… and I guarantee you, they will bring you more joy than any plans you would have made for yourself.