If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Arise My Darling . . .

This essay appears in my latest book, Learning to Lean. I hope you find this an encouragement:

------------------------------

Prefiguring Christ and His Church, Solomon wrote:

[My beloved groom] . . . . says to me,"Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines in bloom give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come! (Song of Songs 2:9b-13).

I'd read this passage dozens of times during the past 35 years of my journey with Christ. But only recently did its message nearly overwhelm my emotions as I connected it with others I'd memorized.

Jesus said, In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be (John 14:2-3).

St. Paul added, Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a [shout], with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Sometimes, when I read promises like these -- and especially like that from the Song of Songs in which my Groom calls me His "beloved," His "beautiful one" -- I can almost hear the Lord shout. I can almost hear the trumpet. I can almost see myself in His presence, His arms drawing me to Himself as He whispers: Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come with Me. The vines in blossom are giving off their sweet fragrance. Winter is past. Come with Me to the place I've prepared for you. A place without tears, or fear, or sorrow. A place without separation, or death.

Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.

------
 

4 comments:

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Good post. Heaven is a place to look forward to.

I wonder ... when Jesus said: "In my Father's house there are many dwelling places (rooms)." Is this to keep every denomination separate so He can have some peace without our incessant arguing about our differences, instead of rejoicing in what unites us?

God bless.

Richard Maffeo said...

Your comment actually got me to laugh out loud! One of the reasons I have stopped posting to some FB pages is exactly that reason . . . brothers and sisters in Christ arguing incessantly about what divides us instead of what unites us. Meanwhile, people are going to an eternal hell all around us without hardly anyone taking the time to throw then a lifeline.

Thanks for the comment, Victor.

Anonymous said...

I apologize ahead of time for how this may sound, it seems a little odd to hear a man looking forward to his "bridegroom". But, it feels even more uncomfortable to think of Jesus talking to me like that. I'm much more comfortable with the brother concept, but is that biblical?

Richard Maffeo said...

Hello, Anonymous. I am really glad you asked this question . . .or actually, questions.

I can see why it might make some uncomfortable to refer to ourselves as the Bride of Christ (which makes Him the Bridegoorm).

There are a number of Bible passages that refer to the Church (or to the New Jerusalem) as the Bride (which means the individuals who make up the Church are "brides". Are really good example of an individual bride being brought to Christ as the groom is in 2 Cor 11:2. The passage in Ephesians 5:22-32 (verse 32 brings home the point of the analogy). Other passages include:
Matthew 9:15; 25:1; Mark 2:19; John 3:29; Rev 19:7; 21:3, 9; 22:17.

I could also take you through the OT in which God uses the words 'betroth' (speaking of the nation Israel -- but the nation is made up of individuals like you and me). For example, I am reading Hosea and came across these passages just this morning: Hosea 2:19-20.

I believe it is exquisitely Biblical for us to consider ourselves as a bride of Christ. And that concept is not a new one. One reason the Song of Songs is in the Canon is because early Church writers and other theologians saw in that book the relationship between Christ and His bride -- you and me.

As i think about it, the language in S of S is different only in kind when compared with Ephesians 5 in which St. Paul compares married life between a man and a woman and Christ and the Church. Not verse 29 of Ephesians 5. Paul tells the husband to nurture and CHERISH his wife (as Christ loves, nurtures and cherishes the Church -- meaning the individuals who make up the Church).

Does that answer your questions a little?