The Bridegroom is With You

Sarah Bartel // Genius of the Call


October 22  

“Married couples and families of all the world: the Bridegroom is with you! This is what the Pope wishes to say to you!”

These words of St. John Paull II have been echoing in my heart and through the holy ordinary of my days as a wife and mother ever since I read them in graduate school.

“The Bridegroom is with you!” John Paul proclaimed this in 1994, in his “Letter to Families.” Jesus is present as Bridegroom in the sacramental mystery of the ordinary human bridegroom and bride who become an icon of Jesus’ own nuptial covenant with his bride, the Church.

St. John Paul II was making a beautiful theological statement about sacramental marriage, but I am sure he would not mind that, for years now, I’ve taken this statement quite literally.

When my family sits down to the dinner table, I think of Jesus sitting down with us, pulling his chair a little closer as we reach for the salad tongs. “The Bridegroom is with you!”

When my husband and I have stayed up late soothing anxious little girls to sleep or working out algebra problems with hard-working, earnest teens, he keeps watch in the upstairs bedrooms with us, too. “The Bridegroom is with you!”

When we lay as husband and wife in the darkness of our marriage bed, whether we are celebrating our sacrament in love or talking over our concerns from the day and plans for the future, he is there in the mystery of our love and intimacy, making it all fruitful and bringing hope. “The Bridegroom is with you!”

Thinking of Jesus’ presence inside the walls of my home reminds me that I have a high call to live up to.

How do I respond when my kids have all conspired to crush my very last nerve underfoot? Do I lose it, or do I breathe and pray for grace? I know he is with me, loving me, giving me the strength I need. However the scene unfolds, I know that the healing love of the Good Shepherd is still there to help me repent (if need be), repair, and restore relationships . . . and sanity!

What St. John Paul II loved to show us over and over again is how much Jesus personally cares about our marriages and our families. He is the “pope of the family,” and his speeches, homilies, encyclicals, and letters affirm and encourage marriage, motherhood, and family over and over again. He’s the pope who wrote a Christmas letter to children! A letter to women! He kissed babies and delighted in blessing newlyweds. He made the Wedding at Cana part of the Rosary, and he meditated on the many ways this mystery plays out in our own lives.

Together with “be not afraid,” may these words echo in our hearts to remind us of the beauty, hope, and dignity of our vocation—both in the abstract, and in the very concrete details of our daily lives of mothering!

Time to dig ground-up playdough out of the carpet? You’re not alone. The Bridegroom is with you.

Searching for the right words to ask your adult son if he’s going to Mass? The Bridegroom is with you.

Feeling stretched between caring for your aging parents and raising your children? The Bridegroom is with you.

Perhaps picturing Jesus present in your home and integrated into your family life can help in situations like these!

May St. John Paul II’s feast day remind us of our high calling to allow the mystery of the Wedding at Cana to bear more and more fruit in our lives.

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