Happy Easter! This Thursday of Easter Week I continue my journey through Scott Hahn’s book, Lenten Reflections from A Father Who Keeps His Promises.
Jesus, in welcoming us into His family, gives us His human mother as ours:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” John 19:26-27.
In one sense she is our mother-in-law, as Christ is the bridegroom of the Church.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul uses the description of Christ as bridegroom:
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. Eph. 5:25-28.
If Christ is the bridegroom of the Church, then we—His Church—are the bride of Christ.
So I ask myself—what does this mean to me? How am I, a member of this Church—His bride, to behave?
I remember that my wife and I—as newlyweds—were told of a lollipop rule of marriage. It goes like this: for the first year of marriage, put a lollipop into a bowl for each time you have “intimacy” with each other. After the first year, take a lollipop out for each act of “intimacy”. Your bowl will never be empty.
I place intimacy in quotes for this reason: the physical act of love-making is often identified as the sole—or highest—form of intimacy. But as I grow older, I understand this physical form of intimate interaction is only a manifestation of true intimacy, an outward sign of an intimate relationship.
What, then, is intimacy? Is it enough to describe it, as one resource does, as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group”?
To me, that definition is inadequate. It lacks the requisite sense of vulnerability, of trust, of hope and mutuality.
And then it hit me: Shrek!
You know: “Onions have layers. Ogres have layers! Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.”
So, am I saying ogres are intimate? Because if that’s true, I am VERY intimate! As in Oscar the Grouch intimate!
My point is this: who do I allow into my inmost layers? To whom do I expose my inner self, under the protective layers, veneers and plies?
And, as a member of the Church, the bride of Christ, how do I let Jesus into my innermost layers to the very core of me?
As Paul in his letter to the Ephesians describes marriage, it requires the self-sacrificing intimacy that Christ pours Himself into with us, His Church. This model is difficult, as hard as Christ’s admonition: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.“