MARRIAGE: MAN AND WOMAN
CHRIST AND THE CHURCH
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man has ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the Church; for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife and the two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church” (Eph. 5:25-32)
From a Saint:
“This is a great mystery; but
I speak concerning Christ and the Church”
It is a great mystery when a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, The Apostle himself who has been raised to the third heaven and beheld many heavenly mysteries, calls the marriage of natural man on earth a great mystery. It is the mystery of love and life, and the only mystery that exceeds it is the mystery of Christ’s link with His Church. Christ calls himself the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride. Christ so loved the Church that He left His heavenly Father for her – though remaining equal with Him in unity of essence and divinity – and came down to earth and cleaved to His Church. He suffered for her sake that He might, by His Blood, cleanse her from sin and from all impurity and make her worthy to be called His Bride. He warms the Church with His love, feeds her with His Blood, and enlivens, enlightens and adorns her with His Holy Spirit. As a man is to his wife, so Christ is to the Church.
A woman obeys her husband, and the church obeys Christ. A man loves his wife as his own flesh, and Christ loves the Church as His own flesh. A man loves his wife as he does himself, and a wife is in awe of her husband. Christ loves the Church as His own self, and the Church is in awe of Christ. As no one hates his own flesh but gives it warmth and food, so also Christ gives warmth and food to the Church as His own flesh. Each individual human soul is the bride of Christ the Husband, and the community of all the faithful is the Bride of Christ the Husband.
The relationship of any one believer with Christ and that of the whole Church with Christ is essentially the same. Christ is the Head of that great Body that is called the Church, and which is part visible and in part invisible.
O, my brothers, this is a great mystery! It is revealed to us according to the measure of our love for Christ, and of our fear of His judgement. (Prologue 2 p238)