Great and Holy Monday
‘Behold, the bridegroom comes…’
In Eighth Century B.C. Israel, the Lord God instructed the prophet Hosea to marry the prostitute Gomer to teach His people by drawing a parallel.
God loved His chosen people with all the fidelity of a devoted husband. But His bride Israel agonized Him by chasing after false gods: ‘For the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.’ (Hosea 1:2). Israel’s idolatry was like a wife’s adultery.
The Old Testament image of God and Israel as bridegroom and bride plays a vital role in shaping our Holy Week worship from Sunday evening to Thursday morning and beyond.
Christ the bridegroom is depicted, not in radiant vesture, but in a purple cloak of mockery wearing a crown of thorns. This is to remind us of the majestic sacrifice He made:
so as to present the church to Himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind-yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:17)
But before the marriage must come the wedding and its vows. St. Matthew makes much of this vision of the nuptials between Christ and His Church, and the incandescent joy of the feast that accompanies it.
Are we prepared for it? Have we washed our faces with tears of repentance? Are we bringing as gifts fruits of compunction? Are we clothed in filthy rags of sin or gleaming garments of righteousness?
We will consider this in tomorrow’s meditation.