Christ proclaimed Himself to be the Bridegroom. In the Icon of Christ the Bridegroom He is sitting with His wrists tied, crowned with thorns and in the red robe with the whip marks on his body and holding the reed. In Orthodox Jewish weddings and Eastern Rite and Orthodox weddings the bride and groom wear the crown and their wrists are bound with the stole of the priest or rabbi. I love the symbolism of that. I wish the Latin Rite had it.
Jesus tells a few parables in which wedding banquets play a part, but the one that we tend to consider on Holy Tues is the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids. The bit in that parable that I wonder about is “The bridegroom was late” He didn’t turn up when expected.
This is one of those double layered revelations of the both/and kind which Catholic apologists are so fond of. How often do we hear, in response to a question, “It’s not either/or it’s both/and.” ?
Jesus was late. The people had been waiting for a Messiah since a saviour was promised to Eve and they had been waiting for the throne of David to be eternal since the death of Solomon. It’s a long time to wait.
In the meantime Israel had been scattered among the gentiles and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin now lived in the Holy Land with a remnant of Levi and an even smaller remnant of the ten lost tribes of Israel. If all Israel was to be saved where was the Saviour?
So by the time He turned up quite a few people had given up on His appearance all together and those who had not, even among the apostles, had made up their own image of who the Messiah would be and what He would do.
There was many a dry lamp in Judea.
So Jesus was rejected and crucified.
But “He will come again to judge the living and the dead and His Kingdom will have no end.” (Apostles Creed and Nicene/Constan Creed)
Here we are 2000+ years later and He is still not come. So how many of us have decided He won’t be coming? And how many have made up their/our own idea of just what that Second Coming had better consist of?
It’s increasingly difficult today, it seems to me, to keep the pure olive oil burning and topped up when there are so many religious snake oil salesmen out there. We must pray for discernment every day.
But when it’s so difficult to keep the lamps alight why is the Bridegroom late? Why doesn’t He come early instead? I wonder if the problem is us.
Weddings take a lot of preparation. So the Wedding Banquet of the Bridegroom will take a lot more preparation. If we aren’t getting prepared, we aren’t ready for Him to arrive – and so He’ll be late. But in the end He’ll turn up whether we’re ready or not. So as He is giving us the chance to get cleaned up, wear the proper wedding cloths and get some oil in our lamps, perhaps we should start getting ready.