Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Hero

Today's Gospel puts us "at Aenon, near Salim, where the water was plentiful" and John the Baptizer was doing his thing, while Jesus and his disciples were also baptizing. And when someone pointed this out to John, he acknowledged that his mission was being handed over. He was being eclipsed by someone who, if things followed the usual pattern, should have considered himself a disciple of John, and "no disciple is greater than his master." But "there is a greater than Solomon here" and John knows it. John's language (which is the language also of the evangelist John) is wedding imagery. John recognizes Jesus as "the bridegroom" while he himself is "best man." Who's the bride? That was something the prophets had already expressed centuries before: it was the whole people of God. Which means, of course, that Jesus is here in the role of God-the-Bridegroom.
St. Paul used the same concept. To the Corinthians, he wrote, "I engaged you to one husband," Christ. St. Paul sees himself as "father of the bride."
And in the Christmas season that ends now with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Liturgy traditionally applies the wedding imagery in a different manner: Jesus himself is the marriage between God and man, because in him both divine nature and human nature belong completely and indivisibly together.

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