The Alliance: The Ring of the Bride
There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
The word covenant occurs 286 times in the Old Testament. This gives an idea of the importance that Israel has given to this institution. She used it as an image to express her relationship with the Lord. But what does it mean to make a covenant with God?
Talking about bilateral contract is approximate and even misleading. The first covenant, stipulated with Noah and, through him, the whole of humanity and “with every living animal, birds, cattle, all living creatures of the earth that came out of the ark” (Gen 9:8-11) was one-sided. The Lord alone took on commitments and demanded nothing in return. He promised that there would be no more flood waters, though he knew that man would continue to be unfaithful, “because man’s heart is set on evil from childhood” (Gen 8:21).
He called Abraham from Mesopotamia to give him a land though Abraham had done nothing to deserve this gift. He was only asked to believe in gratuitous love. To convince him, God made a covenant with him and sanctioned it with a ritual (Gen 15). The patriarch did not have to be afraid. He would come into possession of the land, because the covenant of the Lord was inviolable. It was founded on his word, solemnly confirmed by an oath.
The gratuitousness and unilateral commitment characterize the covenants of God. Throughout its turbulent history, Israel maintained its memory and, even in the most dramatic moments, she never lost hope. She was aware that the predilection of the Lord for her would never have come less. She could have sinned as long as she wanted, the Lord would not have revoked his covenant, because, without asking anything in return, he promised to bless his people. The covenants of God are contractual; they are pure grace.
Yet the Lord expects an answer from man. He does not ask him to sign a deal, but to accept his proposal of mutual belonging, as it happens between the groom and the bride. The Eucharist… is the exchange of rings.
To internalize the message, we repeat:
“The Eucharistic celebration is the wedding feast with the Lord.”