The Marital Mystery

The Economy of Salvation is a marital mystery. The Passion of Christ is the greatest paradoxical revelation of love wherein Christ the bridegroom dies to give life to His bride the Church. The Cross is the wedding feast where the bridegroom Himself becomes the food for His bride. As St. Jacob of Serugh writes; “Who has ever beheld a Bridegroom sacrificed at the very wedding feast, or brides consuming their betrothed? A novel action has the Son of God performed in the world, one that has never before been done by any but he: his own body and blood has he laid out for the guests at the wedding feast, so that they might eat of him and live in him without end.”

The Church today celebrates the Feast of Theophany which is essentially the betrothal of Christ and the Church solemnized by the friend of Christ the bridegroom viz. John the Baptist (John 3:29). Thus we sing in today’s Communion Hymn; “John said to the True Church, the bride of Christ, I am his friend, but He is your beloved.”

Furthermore one of the Theophany prayers in 𝘍𝘦𝘯𝘲𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰 makes this concept perspicuous; “Today the lovely Bridal Chamber has been adorned for the bridegroom who has come to make the Wedding Feast for the bride whom He betrothed from Baptism.”

The marriage of this betrothed bride and bridegroom would be consummated in the Kingdom of Heaven which is identified as a Bridal Chamber in the West Syriac Tradition thereby exhibiting an intimate scenario.

The Bridal Chamber is a hallmark of the West Syriac Liturgical Tradition. For instance in the Syriac Orthodox Shehimo (The Book of Common Prayer) the expression ‘Bridal Chamber’ occurs over thirty six times, referring to the Kingdom of Heaven. I conclude with the words of Sebastian Brock; “It is a remarkable fact that in numerous references to the Parable of the Virgins, Syriac writers of all periods do not speak of the Wise Virgins entering the Marriage Feast (Matt. 25:10), but instead have them entering the more intimate Bridal Chamber (gnona/gnuno). Thus, for example, Aphrahat (Dem. VI.l), using phraseology based on the Parable, exhorts his readers, “Let us watch out for the arrival of the glorious Bridegroom, so that we may enter with Him into His Bridal Chamber.”

Blessed Feast!
Dayroyo Fr. Basil

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