Gospel Meditation – Jesus is the faithful bridegroom.

March 24, 2024 — Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

A few months before they married, my twenty-three-year-old sister and her fiancé planned a cross-country road trip to visit his family. My parents told them that they could only go if they slept in separate hotel rooms, offering to foot the bill. It might sound prudish, but my parents wanted the young couple to understand that their approaching unity was close, but not yet. Patience solidifies love. 

What could this possibly have to do with Palm Sunday? It’s usually overlooked, but the Gospels tell us that, after entering Jerusalem, Jesus “looked around … and since it was late, went out to Bethany with the twelve” (Mk 11:11) for the night. Who cares? Why include this detail? Jews in those days believed that the new Davidic King would one day re-enter and “marry” the city. A new future marked by fidelity would begin for God’s people. Israel’s God would be in union with His people forever. Without over-sexualizing the metaphor, perhaps Jesus refused to sleep in Jerusalem to remind us of his marital purpose. He was entering Jerusalem as the bridegroom-king. It was almost time, but not yet. Soon he will sleep in Jerusalem in the tomb and then something new will begin: his one body, his Church.

Lenten challenge: This Holy Week, I challenge you to keep this image in your mind all the way until Easter Sunday: Jesus is the faithful bridegroom who patiently prepares his bride for their new life together. Go to the Good Friday liturgy and kiss the cross. When you do, let that gesture be the long-awaited “I do” to our faithful God, who always waits for us.   

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