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In the symbolism of salvation Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride. From INTER INSIGNIORES

In the symbolism of salvation Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride


(The hyper-linked comments in italics are by John Wijngaards)

Arms of John Paul II

29. For the salvation offered by God to men and women, the union with him to which they are called-in short, the Covenant took on, from the Old Testament Prophets onwards, the privileged form of a nuptial mystery: for God the Chosen People is seen as his ardently loved spouse. Both Jewish and Christian tradition has discovered the depth of this intimacy of love by reading and rereading the Song of Songs; the divine Bridegroom will remain faithful even when the Bride betrays his love, when Israel is unfaithful to God (cf. Hos. 1-3; Jer. 2). When the ‘fullness of time’ (Gal. 4:4) comes, the Word, the Son of God, takes on flesh in order to establish and seal the new and eternal Covenant in his blood, which will be shed for many so that sins may be forgiven. His death will gather together again the scattered children of God; from his pierced side will be born the Church, as Eve was born from Adam’s side. At that time there is fully and eternally accomplished the nuptial mystery proclaimed and hymned in the Old Testament: Christ is the Bridegroom; the

30. Church is his bride, whom he loves because he has gained her by his blood and made her glorious, holy and without blemish, and henceforth he is inseparable from her. This nuptial theme, which is developed from the Letters of Saint Paul onwards (cf. 2 Cor. 11 :2, Eph. 5 :22-23) to the writings of Saint John (cf. especially Jn 3:29, Rev. 19:7, 9), is present also in the Synoptic Gospels: the Bridegroom’s friends must not fast as long as he is with them (cf. Mk 2:19); the Kingdom of Heaven is like a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding (cf. Mt. 22:1-14). It is through this Scriptural language, all interwoven with symbols, and which expresses and affects man and woman in their profound identity, that there is revealed to us the mystery of God and Christ, a mystery which of itself is unfathomable.

31. That is why we can never ignore the fact that Christ is a man. And therefore, unless one is to disregard the importance of this symbolism for the economy of Revelation, it must be admitted that, in actions which demand the character of ordination and in which Christ himself, the author of the Covenant, the Bridegroom and Head of the Church, is represented, exercising his ministry of salvation-which is in the highest degree the case of the Eucharist-his role (this is the original sense of the word persona) must be taken by a man. This does not stem from any personal superiority of the latter in the order of values, but only from a difference of fact on the level of functions and service.

For the full text, see: INTER INSIGNIORES.

From the Commentary by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Declaration Inter Insigniores:

Sacred Congregation for Doctrine

99. However, the objectors continue: it would indeed be important that Christ should be represented by a man if the maleness of Christ played an essential part in the economy of salvation. But, they say, one cannot accord gender a special place in the hypostatic union: what is essential is the human nature-no more assumed by the word, not the incidental characteristics such as the sex or even the race which he assumed. If the Church admits that men of all races can validly represent Christ, why should she deny women this ability to represent him?

100. We must first of all reply, in the words of the declaration, that ethnic differences ‘do not affect the human person as intimately as the difference of sex.’ On this point biblical teaching agrees with modern psychology. The difference between the sexes however is something willed by God from the beginning, according to the account in Genesis (which is also quoted in the gospel), and is directed both to communion between persons and to the begetting of human beings. And it must be affirmed first and foremost that the fact that Christ is a man and not a woman is neither incidental nor unimportant in relation to the economy of salvation.

101. In what sense? Not of course in the material sense, as has sometimes been suggested in polemics in order to discredit it, but because the whole economy of salvation has been revealed to us through essential symbols from which it cannot be separated and without which we would be unable to understand God’s design. Christ is the new Adam. God’s covenant with men is presented in the Old Testament as a nuptial mystery, the definitive reality of which is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

102. The declaration briefly presents the stages marking the progressive development of this biblical theme, the subject of many exegetical and theological studies. Christ is the bridegroom of the Church, whom he won for himself with his blood, and the salvation brought by him is the new covenant: by using this language, revelation shows why the incarnation took place according to the male gender, and makes it impossible to ignore this historical reality. For this reason, only a man can take the part of Christ, be a sign of his presence, in a word ‘represent’ him (that is, be an effective sign of his presence) in the essential acts of the covenant.

103. Could one do without this biblical symbolism when transmitting the message, in contemplating the mystery and in liturgical life? To ask this, as has been done in certain recent studies, is to call into question the whole structure of revelation and to reject the value of scripture. It will be said, for example, that ‘in every period the ecclesial community appeals to the authority it has received from its founder in order to choose the images enabling it to receive God’s revelation.’ This is perhaps to fail even more profoundly to appreciate the human value of the nuptial theme m the revelation of God’s love.

For the full text, see: Official Commentary on INTER INSIGNIORES.

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