We often hear that the Church is the Bride of Christ. Have you ever wondered about the deeper meaning behind this phrase?
Most people are familiar with Ephesians 5:26-32:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are parts of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great, but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”
In his book Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know, Michael Patrick Barber discusses the meaning behind calling the Church Christ’s Bride. He reminds us that the Church as Christ’s Bride is inseparable from understanding the Church as His mystical body. He explains:
“We can easily misunderstand the ‘body of Christ’ metaphor used for the Church. The point is not that the Church is a headless torso. In marriage, two become so truly united that they become ‘one flesh,’ that is, ‘one body.’ When a husband loves his wife, he ‘loves himself’ and cares for his ‘own flesh.’ The Church is the body of Christ because the Church is his bride.”
The Church is a bride because Jesus is a bridegroom. He spoke of Himself as the Bridegroom (cf. Mt 9:15; Mk 2:19-20, Lk 5:34-35) and the Church is the bride described in the Book of Revelation (21:2). Furthermore, the Church is a Mother because our souls are born in her, and this motherhood flows forth from her role as the Bride of Christ.
To learn more about the deeper meaning of the Mystical Body of Christ, check out Michael Patrick Barber’s Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know, sold here.