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April 6, 2015

The Bridegroom Comes as a Mad Lover to Redeem His Creation

By His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetriados and Almyros

My beloved fathers and brethren, my beloved children in the Lord,

Having completed the "arena" of Great Lent, we have arrived by the grace of God at "the beginning of the end," namely Holy and Great Week.

Throughout this forty day period our Church educated us and prepared us with sacred services full of wonderful hymns and readings, precisely for this holy "journey" through Holy Week, which invites us to follow Christ the Bridegroom to His Venerable Passion and His Light-bearing Resurrection.

Desiring to be with you at every stage of this journey, since a Bishop is never separated from his spiritual children, I wanted to share with you some simple, paternal and very loving thoughts to help us all together feel deeper the meaning of Holy Week, since we bear the name of Christ, and how we can live more consciously and more familiar with the Bridegroom of the Church, we who are essentially and formally children of the Church.

It was said earlier that Holy Week is a journey. And the greatness of this journey is not measured by the length of its days and hours, but by what takes place within it. The time has been shrunk and compacted to fit the most shocking moments humanity has ever known.

During this journey, step by step, we will approach and discover and come to know our Loving God who has come to us. He has come as a mad lover to the darkness of our sin and apostasy, to offer Himself for His creation. He calls Himself the Bridegroom, and he stresses that the greatest love one can have is to "give one's life for a friend" (Jn. 15:13).

The Bridegroom comes not only now, during the great events we will experience during these holy days, but always, in the past, the present and our future. This continuous motion and movement towards us is divine eros, which the Son of God has nourished before all ages and will continuously nourish throughout the future ages for humanity.

As the Bridegroom He invites everyone to a substantial union with Him; a union not limited to a transient and superficial emotional thrill that we find these days, but in a deep experience that will be realized throughout our lives. How will we respond to this invitation?

What Christ asks from us through the Church is the duration and authenticity of our feelings towards Him; to hate sin and to consciously and diligently strive against it; to mortify the worldly mindset within us and its concerns; to diligently try to acquire piety, devotion, humility, love, brotherly love, and all the virtues that flow from the "Voluntary Passion" of Christ the Savior.

"Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night." He comes brilliantly adorned with His extreme humility, for the unique purpose that must take place in the world. He runs to the wedding feast, willingly and joyfully, to His arrest, sufferings, and martyrdom. However, we are all invited by Him, not to remember or feel some emotions, but with the ins and outs of the church in our lives, from now and henceforth, to "journey with Him and be crucified with Him," and with vigilance and watchfulness, like people who are in love and who in their hearts throughout the night indulge in the object of their love, or even as grateful slaves awaiting their Lord, let us open to Him the door of our hearts and enter with Him, practically and experientially, into the bridal chamber.

Let us not, therefore, remain outside of the bridal chamber of Christ!

May you have a good Holy Week!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.