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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Two-fold Mystery of Marriage


by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:32).

Great is the mystery when a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife. The apostle himself, who was raised to the third heaven and who saw many mysteries of heaven, calls the physical union of men and women in marriage on earth "a great mystery." That is, the mystery of love and life and only the mystery of Christ's bond with His Church is greater.

Christ is called the Bridegroom and the Church, the Bride. Christ loves His Church so much that, because of Her, He left His heavenly Father - remaining with Him, of course, in unity of substance and divinity - and descended to earth and attached Himself to His Church and suffered for Her so that, by His Blood cleanse Her from every sin and spot and make Her worthy to be called His Bride. With His love He warms the Church, with His Blood He feeds the Church, and by His Holy Spirit He causes the Church to live, and sanctifies and adorns Her.

What a husband is to a wife, so Christ is to the Church. Man is the head of a woman and Christ is the Head of the Church. A husband loves his wife as his own body. A woman listens to her husband and the Church listens to Christ. A husband loves his wife as he loves his own body and Christ loves the Church as His own Body. A husband loves his wife as he loves himself and a wife reveres her husband, and Christ loves the Church as He loves Himself and the Church reveres Christ. Since no one hates his own flesh but rather warms and nourishes it so also Christ warms and feeds the Church as His own Body. And every individual human soul is the bride of Christ the Bridegroom and the assembly of all the faithful is the bride of Christ the Bridegroom. The kind of relationship of a believing man toward Christ also is the relationship of the entire Church toward Christ. Christ is the Head of that great Body which is called the Church, and which is in part visible and in part invisible.

O my brethren, this is a great mystery! It is revealed to us according to the measure of our love toward Christ and of our fear of Christ's judgment.

O Lord, Gentle Savior, cleanse us, save us and adorn our souls that we may be worthy of the immortal and indescribable unity with You in time and in eternity.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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