1 Peter 2:1-10 / John 20:1-9
Yesterday, much of the world was captivated by images of the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was an image of splendor, of dignity, of nobility, and of regal and holy decorum, and at the same time, or perhaps because of this, a moment of happiness and joy, of delight and love, of beauty and intimacy. It is said that a million souls gathered in London itself to be part of the event, and who knows how many countless millions viewed from afar, or will view the recordings of the event. The wedding captured the attention of the media and the imagination of many. Even those who professed disinterest could not help but be aware of the moment; indeed, they needed of necessity to go out of their way to avoid watching it, should they have desired to be innocent of knowledge of its details.
Whatever one's opinion of the British monarchy, to witness this wedding is to catch a glimpse, an image of another world, one that lives in the same world as the rest of us, but according to quite a different rhythm. Taken at its word, it is a world where the grace of the risen Christ and the power of his love lift up even the most common of events, the joining of a man and woman to live together, to be a foretaste of the splendor that is Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the Lamb once slain, taking to himself his Bride, the Church, and plighting his troth to be bound to her, and she to him, for all eternity. Yet, this world offends. To some it is a sham, all glitter and gilding with nothing true, nothing wholesome beneath. For others, it is a dangerous lie, a distraction from the true needs of human beings who suffer daily, who lack the basic necessities of life. For still others, it stands against reason itself, a continuation at great public expense of a vision of human reality, and indeed of divine reality, better left to a darker past and not continued on into a supposedly brighter future free of such superstition and archaic tradition.
What is true of the royal wedding, of course, ought also to be true of the life of the Church, and indeed of every Christian, in light of the empty Tomb and the glory of Christ risen from the dead. As Peter reminds us who have tasted that the Lord is sweet, the man to whom we have plighted our troth has been, and always will be rejected indeed by men. Jesus Christ is, for those who will not receive the Good News of Easter, never able to be ignored. He will continue even for those in unbelief as the stone which the builders rejected ... a stone of stumbling and a rock of scandal to them who stumble at the word, neither do believe, whereunto also they are set. To live in the light and joy of the Resurrection is to live in the world but, like the participants at the royal wedding, according to a vision that the world can and never will receive. It has only two choices: to reject the Gospel and abide in darkness, or to receive with us the Good News and enter into the glorious splendor and joy of the risen Christ.
And what of us? Peter reminds us that the pomp and glory of the world, even at its most regal, is nothing when set against the unsurpassed majesty of the Bride of Christ. We are chosen and made honorable by God, and so need not envy the slightest the most ancient and royal of lineages. Indeed, to put the kings of the world to shame, even the least to come from the saving waters of Baptism has been made as living stones built up, a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. We who are wed to Jesus Christ, the chief corner stone, elect, precious, have been placed beyond the reach of the taunts and rebuffs of the world which is passing away — and he that shall believe in Him shall not be confounded. We who have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ are nobler than anything the world can produce. We have become, in our Paschal betrothal to Christ, a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people. It is not of whom we are born that ever mattered, only in whom we are born again, we who in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
To whom ought the world to look to find splendor and glory, dignity and decorum, royalty and priesthood? Where will the world see a true image of nuptial joy and wedded bliss? Nowhere but in the true Bride, the Church, and in her royal betrothal to the Bridegroom, the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, once slain and now risen from the dead, never to die again.
We know that Christ is risen, henceforth ever living: Have mercy, Victor King, pardon giving. Amen. Alleluia!