“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
My dear family in Christ,
This Sunday, Jesus speaks to us in a Gospel that we typically might hear at a funeral. But have you ever heard it at a wedding? As is often the case, this Gospel can be most fully understood in the context of two things: the Jewish religious customs that Jesus and His disciples lived in, and the great mystery of Jesus not merely as Lord, or even Saviour, but as the Bridegroom, and the Church(us) as His Bride. In this case, Jesus makes a direct reference to the beautiful Jewish custom of betrothal and marriage.
‘The first major step in the Jewish Marriage Customs is Betrothal. Betrothal began with the establishment of a marriage covenant; by Jesus’ time it was the usual for the prospective bridegroom to take the initiative.
The prospective bridegroom would travel from his father’s house to the house of the prospective bride. Once there he would negotiate the price of purchase of the young woman with her father to become married to the bride. Once the bridegroom had paid the agreed upon price the marriage covenant was established, and the couple were regarded to be husband and wife. From this point on the bride was consecrated or set-aside exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol to mark this covenant relationship as being established the bride and groom would drink from a cup of wine over which a betrothal benediction had been spoken.
After the marriage covenant had been established the groom would return to his father’s house. He would remain there separate from his wife for twelve months, during this time the bride would gather her things including her bridal group and prepare for married life.
The groom busied himself by preparing living accommodations in his father’s house, which would in turn be used by his bride.
When the work was done, at the end of the period of separation the groom would come to take the bride to live with him. This usually took place at night and would involve the groom, best man and other male escorts who would leave the father’s house and form a torch light procession to the bride’s home.’
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So what’s the point?
God really does love you. Like a Father loves His child, like a Bridegroom loves his bride, God loves you. When our hearts become troubled, when He feels far away, when all this seems difficult to believe, remember His words. He has gone to prepare a place for us. May this Truth comfort our troubled hearts this Sunday and beyond.
God love you,