Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing Chapter 7 of “Mulieris Dignitatem”, St. John Paul II continues to share the beautiful Mystery of the Church as the Bride of Christ:
The symbolic dimension of the “great mystery”
- In the Letter to the Ephesians we encounter a second dimension of the analogy which, taken as a whole, serves to reveal the “great mystery”. This is a symbolic dimension. If God’s love for the human person, for the Chosen People of Israel, is presented by the Prophets as the love of the bridegroom for the bride, such an analogy expresses the “spousal” quality and the divine and non-human character of God’s love: “For your Maker is your husband … the God of the whole earth he is called” (Is 54:5). The same can also be said of the spousal love of Christ the Redeemer: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). It is a matter, therefore, of God’s love expressed by means of the Redemption accomplished by Christ. According to Saint Paul’s Letter, this love is “like” the spousal love of human spouses, but naturally it is not “the same”. For the analogy implies a likeness, while at the same time leaving ample room for non-likeness.
This is easily seen in regard to the person of the “bride”. According to the Letter to the Ephesians, the bride is the Church, just as for the Prophets the bride was Israel. She is therefore a collective subject and not an individual person. This collective subject is the People of God, a community made up of many persons, both women and men. “Christ has loved the Church” precisely as a community, as the People of God. At the same time, in this Church, which in the same passage is also called his “body” (cf. Eph 5:23), he has loved every individual person. For Christ has redeemed all without exception, every man and woman. It is precisely this love of God which is expressed in the Redemption; the spousal character of this love reaches completion in the history of humanity and of the world.
Christ has entered this history and remains in it as the Bridegroom who “has given himself”. “To give” means “to become a sincere gift” in the most complete and radical way: “Greater love has no man than this” (Jn 15:13). According to this conception, all human beings - both women and men - are called through the Church, to be the “Bride” of Christ, the Redeemer of the world. In this way “being the bride”, and thus the “feminine” element, becomes a symbol of all that is “human”, according to the words of Paul: “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
How important it is for all of us in the Church to ponder, by God’s Grace, how Christ “has given Himself”! How we need His Holy Spirit to learn, as Mary learned from Jesus, to become a “sincere gift” – loving one another as He loved us!