The angel spoke to me, saying,
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
Today is my 24th wedding anniversary. All those years ago, I probably had little idea of what I was doing. I knew marriage was a big commitment, but I didn’t realize how it would change my life. What I did know, due to graduate school, is that I had spent a year away from a woman I loved very much and I didn’t want to spend the next year in the same manner.
When I say that I didn’t know what I was doing, it doesn’t mean that I felt that way at the time. The reality is when you are in your early 20’s you can easily feel like you know everything! It is only when you get older that you realize just how clueless and sometimes arrogant you were.
In Monday’s first reading from Revelation the image of Jerusalem in all it’s splendor as the bride of the Lamb is used. Growing up Catholic and being educated in Catholic schools, I have been exposed to this image of Christ and His bride, the Church, so many times. An image this powerful certainly can never be used lightly.
But in our world, the image seems to be making less and less of an impact. We sometimes reflect that the image of the Good Shepherd is difficult for a modern man to relate to because how many people have ever really seen a shepherd. Today, we can say, “How many great marriages have you seen?” It is becoming ever more difficult to understand what is being conveyed in Scripture.
My daughter and I were recently talking about the fact that the majority of her friend’s parents are divorced. That holds true for even her Catholic friends. How do her friends read the passage above?
Look at the fallout from the Ashley Madison website scandal, where the names of millions of clients who paid for the chance to have extra-martial affairs were made public. How do those whose names are on that list read the above passage? How about the people who created the website? Or how about those who have found out they were cheated on?
I remember the words of sociologist and pastor, Tony Campolo, years ago when he was talking about marriage. He said that marriage is like a triangle with each person being the bottom angles and God being the top angle. If couples include God in their relationship and work to grow ever closer to Him, then as time goes by the two people grow ever closer together. I remember him making a profound statement about himself when he got married. He said, “I can’t even say for sure I loved my wife.” That was because only after he grew and matured did he understand love. But because he and his spouse were growing ever closer to God, they grew ever closer together, and he loved her more and more as the years passed by.
Perhaps, the imagery of Scripture needs to bring us back to the sanctity and profoundness of marriage. Just because the institution of marriage in our modern society has changed so radically doesn’t mean that the reality of marriage and the truth of the Scriptural image has changed. When we look at our spouses, we need to see the beauty of covenant and the splendor of God.
Today is my 24th wedding anniversary. Today, I love my wife more than I did on the day we got married. And I pray that I will love her even more on our 25th anniversary. For she is like a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal, and filled with the splendor of God. And I am ever grateful to the One who created her and placed her in my life.