Sunday Scripture readings: January 16, 2022, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Is 62:1-5 Psalm 96:1-3, 7-10
2) 1 Cor 12:4-11 Gospel: Jn 2:1-11
Comparing God to a bridegroom shows us the depth of his love for us
The Bible contains tender images of God. God speaks of himself as a father who picks up a small child and brings her to his cheek or bends down to give her something to eat (Hos 11:1-4).
God, the psalmist indicates, is like a nursing mother (Ps 131:2). The comparisons give us a sense of the gentleness of God. We are invited to rest in his care as contentedly as a baby rests on a mom’s lap after nursing — and getting burped.
The tone of the imagery shifts considerably in today’s first reading. God says that in his love for us, he is like a young man getting married. “As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you” (Is 62:5).
Gentle care but also something much more is being symbolized here, as any man who has stood at the altar and exchanged vows with a woman can testify. And not all of the “something more” is as easy to connect with God as images of fathering and mothering.
No two men have the same identical experience, but I’m pretty sure that my feelings of triumph, relief, awe and desire at my wedding were in the normal range. “This is finally happening! She is actually going through with this!”
I also felt something deeper than exultation, something hard to articulate — a kind of seriousness. The prospect of going through life with this amazing woman was delightful beyond words, but it made me quiet. “This is too great a gift to comprehend.”
To receive the gift, I was pledging my life. (I must have looked solemn indeed. Afterward, Louise asked me if I had been troubled about something.)
If such a collision of feelings is experienced by a groom who rejoices in his bride, how can the groom be an image of God in his love for us? Does God feel needy, desirous, triumphant, relieved, expectant, thankful? Does God get quiet at the thought of having us with him forever?
Every biblical image of God is more unlike God than like him, but the images do give us insights into him.
By comparing himself to a groom at a wedding, God leads us to see something about the depth and power of his love for us. His love is like a groom’s, only infinitely more so. The image is food for thought — and prayer.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.