Like a groom and his bride, beauty lies in the marriage itself, and God delights being married to us

      I want you to recall in your mind’s eye, the last time you were at a wedding. It does not matter who was being married: daughter, son, nephew, niece, grandchild, friend; makes no matter. And at that wedding, at the marriage ceremony itself, on whom was the focus of attention?

      The bride.

      We don’t play “Here Comes the Groom.” We play “Here Comes the Bride,” or some variation thereof.

      Why the focus on the bride? After all, the groom may very well be a handsome fellow who has cleaned up quite nicely. But no, we zoom in on the bride.

      Her beauty - her beauty draws our attention.

      Her dress accentuates her form. Her hair is perfectly coiffed. Her skin is aglow; her nails a marvel of manicuring. Her eyes dazzle, and she smells good, too. She has prepared herself for her husband.

      In the Book of Revelation, we read that “a new Jerusalem . . . (is) prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

      Now, this “new Jerusalem” is the Church. And since you and I are the Church, that means you and I are adorned - adorned for God - just as a bride is adorned: beautiful and welcoming. God focuses not on himself, but on his bride, the Church, and God is lavishing her as though for a palace. The relationship then, between God and human beings, mirrors the relationship between husband and wife. It’s intimate. It’s special. It makes them one.

      So, the groom stands there at the head of the aisle watching his bride float toward him. What’s his facial expression? A big grin? Dumbfounded? Awe?

      That’s how God receives you and me. In God’s eyes you and I are as beautiful as a bride, and God is equally eager as that groom to be with us. For just as the groom rejoices in his bride, so does God rejoice in you and me.   

      One Saturday back in June, I was walking to the sacristy to prepare for the vigil Mass. A wedding had taken place earlier that afternoon, and the wedding party, as well as some guests, were in the process of posing for pictures. I stopped a moment to watch.

      The bride, of course, was beautiful. What interested me while watching this, though, was the deference accorded the bride. When she affected a different pose, for example, her bridesmaids rushed to the bride to help her adjust the train of her dress. The photographer’s assistant approached the bride to primp and preen, and all the while, the groom gave support to the bride with the aid of his right arm.

       When the bride ascended the three steps up to the sanctuary to pose for more pictures, the groomsmen transformed into an army of acolytes. The bride, tottering on four inch heels and with her bouquet of flowers still in hand, allowed this army to practically whisk her up the steps. And when she landed, the whole rigmarole of adjusting the train of her dress and the primping and preening was repeated.

      Why all the fuss? Beauty. Beauty is fragile, and it needs protection.

      In the same way, God fusses over us.

      Doubt that? Listen to this from The Song of Songs: “How beautiful you are, how fair, my love, daughter of delights! Your very form resembles a date-palm, and your breasts, clusters. I thought, ‘Let me climb the date-palm! Let me take hold of its branches! Let your breasts be like clusters of the vine and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine.’” (Songs 7:7-10a)

      The relationship between God and human beings is not a juridical one. Rather, the relationship is like that of bride and groom, and the beauty and excitement that the bride and groom share is exactly the excitement God sees in the beauty of his image and likeness.

      But that beauty is fragile; it needs protection and help, just as that bride needed help negotiating those steps in striking a different pose. God protects his beautiful one – you and me – with his Church.

      High summer brings a boat load of weddings. So if you’re attending one, have fun!

      Beauty. It’s not just at weddings. It’s in the marriage itself, and God delights being married to us.

 

      Deacon Mark Plaiss teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .