This past week, news reports have been flooded with renewed information about a 'fragment' (text on papyrus the size of the palm of your hand) that says that Jesus was married.
And the world is all aflutter!
Why? Because here lay yet another opportunity to defame the One whom the Church declares as God in the flesh, a chance to disprove divinity, a means by which people can transform the Holy into the unholy.
Is it coincidence that this occurs during Holy Week? Not a chance!
In fact, those who are promoting the idea, and those who are reporting it with such joyous fervor are brethren with the Pharisees whom our Lord silenced first two thousand years ago, and who were re-silenced again last evening within the context of the service of Bridegroom Matins.
Yes, I said "Bridegroom". In the news world, it's called "a teaser". You'll have to read on, now, won't you?
In the encounter with the Pharisees, these men (like today's 'journalists') were certain that they had the Lord 'cornered' - "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" (Mat 22:17) You can almost read their minds. "Now we've got Him! If He says, "Pay!", the people will turn on Him, for they hate the Romans. And if He says, "Don't pay!", we'll turn Him over to the Romans for speaking against the government!!! This is great!!!!
What they didn't see, what they couldn't understand, is that God can't be "boxed in" by human thought. "Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin.... Whose image is this?... Render to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's!"
Whoa! They didn't see that coming, did they? Read Matthew 22. It's better than the front page of any paper, or even the 'religious page'!!!
Those promoting today's news stories are certain that they have "cornered" Christians into a region from which they cannot extricate themselves. "See - here's proof that Christ had a wife!!" Proof that comes from a document that was written 6 to 8 centuries after Christ walked the earth, mind you - but PROOF!! Ignore the fact that those who wrote it neither knew (in the first person) those being written of, NOR was the writing "Divinely inspired", as the Church holds for that which has been set aside as Holy Scripture.
But let's not denigrate the authors without giving ear to that which is written. Perhaps, in fact, these were Holy men trying to share spiritual wisdom with their brethren. And please, don't attack based on a sexist perspective with the statement. It means only monks writing to other monks.
So, what could the words possibly mean, if they're NOT incorrect? What were the words EXACTLY? In one part of the fragment, it translates to, "And Jesus said to them, 'My wife,'" And the text then ends and begins anew in the next segment of the fragment, saying, "She will be able to be My disciple."
Well, what could be more condemning to thinking that God the Son led a virginal life, than these fragmented words?
Let's go back to Bridegroom Matins. The central theme of the service is this hymn:
Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight. And blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching. And again unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom, but rouse yourself, crying, 'Holy, Holy, Holy are You, O our God!' Through the prayers of the Theotokos, have mercy on us!
Christ is the Bridegroom. Who is His bride? His Church! This is no strange "new" theology. Go back to Saint Paul, and the people of Ephesus, in whose Epistle we find the lesson used at every Orthodox wedding, which reads:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church, and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:22-32)
Was Christ married? Absolutely! To Mary Magdalene (whom the 'reporters' desire with all their hearts to prove)? Not a chance! Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church! He is and every shall be!
Whoa! They didn't see that coming, did they???
Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small mission community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!
The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.
We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!
Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM
We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible! We are open, and we welcome inside the Church all visitors who follow state COVID guidelines.