My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE CHURCH AS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
By Vladimir Moss
There is no Christian dogma so fiercely under attack today, or subject to such man and varied interpretations, as the dogma of the Church. If the critical question dividing men is still the same that Christ asked the Apostles: "Whom do men say that I am? (St. Matthew 16:13), then that question must now be understood to refer, not only to the single Person of Christ but also to His many-personed Bride, the Church. For many are those who, while looking up to Christ as the Son of God and God, look down on His Church as "having no form or comeliness" (Isaiah 53:2), as a merely human and fallen institution with no part in His Divinity.
And yet the main image of the Church that we find in the Holy Scripture? The Church as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:32) presupposes that Christ and the Church are united in the way that a bridegroom and a bride are united, consubstantial, sharing not only in Christ's Humanity but also in His Divinity, since Christians are "partakers in the Divine nature", in the Apostle Peter's words (II Peter 1:4). Therefore the attempt to place an unbridgeable gulf in dignity between Christ and the Church that is characteristic of Protestantism and Ecumenism is contrary to the sacred symbolism of the Holy Scripture.
Let us look at this symbolism a little more closely.
The essential idea of marriage is the creation of unity out of multiplicity; for the husband and wife "are no more two, but one flesh" (St. Matthew 19:6). In the Church, this unity proceeds in both a vertical and a horizontal direction, as it were, both between Christ and the individual believer and between the believers. And the foundation and model of both kinds of union is the union between the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Thus the Lord prayed for the unity of the Church during the Mystical Supper - "That they all may be one, even as Thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. And the glory which thou gavest Me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one" (St. John 17:21-22).
As Cyril of Alexandria comments on this passage in an illuminating manner: "Christ, having taken as an example an image of that indivisible love, accord and unity which is conceivable only in unanimity, the unity of essence which the Father has with Him and which He, in turn, has with the Father, desires that we too should unite with each other, evidently in the same way as the Consubstantial, Holy Trinity is united so that the whole body of the Church is conceived as one, ascending in Christ through the fusion and union of two people into the composition of the new perfect whole the image of Divine unity and the consubstantial nature of the Holy Trinity as a most perfect interpenetration must be reflected in the unity of the believers who are of one heart and mind" - and body, he adds, for his "natural unity" is perhaps not without bodily unity."
It is striking that Saint Cyril here refers to the union in one flesh of a Christian marriage not simply as an image of the union of all believers in the Church, but as the base, the lowest cell, as it were, of that union, it is not simply that the Christian family is a "house church", in Saint Paul's phrase (Romans 16:4), or a "little church", in Saint John Chrysostom's. The Church is both made up of small families, or little churches, and is one big family or Great Church - the whole family in Heaven and on earth" that is named after Christ (Ephesians 3:5). And while, of course, not all Christians are united in the bond of marriage, they are all united, first through the bond of the marriage of Adam and Eve, which created our original, fallen human nature, and then through the bond of the marriage of the new Adam (Christ) and the new Eve (Theotokos), Christ and His Church, which created The new redeemed nature of mankind. Thus every Christian is born into the little church through the union in the flesh of his parents and is reborn into the Great Church through the union in the flesh of his spiritual parents, Christ, and the Church.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God