Holy Thursday: A marriage proposal. How will you respond?

Holy Thursday is when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, but did you know that he was secretly asking the Apostles to marry him? This sounds crazy, but I promise I didn’t make it up. The first time I heard about this was from Mike Donehy, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, in this video.

Jesus the Bridegroom

When you look at the cross, what do you see? I see a Bridegroom. You might be thinking, “Of course you see a Bridegroom, you’re obsessed with Jesus the Bridegroom!” It’s not just me that sees this, though. I’ve inherited a tried-and-true obsession of many before me.

 He reveals His deep, spousal love for us especially in His passion and death which we enter into as we celebrate the Sacred Triduum, where he reveals in full His marital covenant.
So, if Jesus is the Bridegroom and, as we know, the Church is His bride, then I’m sure you are dying to ask the question every couple gets asked: How did He pop the question??
“…the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
1 Cor 11:23-26
While this doesn’t sound like a very romantic marriage proposal to us, it would sound very different to Jewish ears. When a Jewish man proposed marriage to a woman, he would pass her a cup of wine. If she drank from it, that meant she accepted the proposal and they were betrothed.

Holy Thursday: A new beginning


Even more importantly, Jesus is establishing the New Covenant in His blood. Throughout the Old Testament, God promises to make a new and everlasting covenant with Israel, and this is always spoken of as a marriage covenant. For example, in Hosea the Lord promises: “I will make a covenant for them on that day… I will betroth you to me forever: I will betroth you to me with justice and with judgment, with loyalty and with compassion; I will betroth you to me with fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.”Jesus came to make this new covenant with us! This covenant is not sealed with the blood of animals, but with His own blood.
In his book, Jesus the Bridegroom, which changed how I saw Christ, Brant Pitre says, “In the Last Supper, [Jesus] was as much enacting a Marriage Feast as keeping the Passover. Essentially the Passover itself was nuptial. The foundation of the Marriage between Yahweh and his People was the Covenant between them … It is therefore no playing with words, but the sober truth, to say that Jesus, if not enacting a marriage at the Last supper, was solemnizing the marriage between himself and his Church in this, the New Covenant.”

Will you marry me?

I once heard Fr. Boniface Hicks, O.S.B. preach about the blood and water flowing from Jesus’ side, which “speaks more eloquently than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). He asked: “What does the blood say? It says: ‘Will you marry me?'”

Not only on Holy Thursday and not only to His Apostles does Jesus propose this marriage covenant. He asks each of us to marry Him, to become more closely united with Him, to let Him into our hearts at each communion. Each time the priest repeats the words, “This is my body … This is my blood …” Jesus is asking, “Will you marry me?” As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist let your “Amen” mean, “Yes, Jesus, I will marry you!”

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