“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” Thomas told him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Gospel Reading for the Feast of All Souls.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18 Gospel Reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Jewish marriage comes in two parts. They call the first Kiddushin, or Holy things. It was customary to wait for about a year between the ceremony of kiddushin and that of Nassau, the second stage of marriage. Kiddushin was carried out “according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”
This is similar to cannon law. There were three ways to establish kiddushin marriage. In the words of the Mishnah: “A woman is acquired in three ways … through money (kesef), through a document (shetar) and through sexual relations (bi’ah)” (Mishnah, Kiddushin 1:1). There was no such thing as pre-marital sex. Sexual relations consummated a marriage. If you did it, you were married. I Corinthians reflects this. “Anyone who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For “the two,” it says, “will become one flesh.” I Corinthians 6:16. A chapter later, it says in verse 7-8, ‘To the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a beautiful thing for them to remain as they are, if they cannot exercise self-control they marry; it is better to marry than to remain on fire.” Corinthians 7:36 has, ‘If anyone thinks, he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no deviation; they are in the act of marrying.”
Matthew 19 reads, “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate…” Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. Whoever divorces his wife except on account of nakedness and marries another commits adultery.”
Marriage is more than two people sharing their lives; it is the fusion of animate forces. In Trinitarian language is it peri-choresis, or reflecting the divine dance in our lives. During kiddushin the couple is married, but the couple may not express that union physically. Catholic tradition has what we call S.P.I.C.E.
S represents Spiritual sharing, expressed through praying together or meditation.
P represents the Physical, expressed through closeness such as just being close to one another without genital contact.
I represents the Intellectual, expressed through sharing a project, a book or new learning.
C represents the Communicative/Creative and is expressed through an increase in written or verbal communication or other shared activities.
E represents the Emotional and can be expressed through sharing feelings, desires and humor.
Only after we grow together using S.P.I.C.E. during kiddushin, laying the foundation for a soulful marriage, can we proceed with the Nassau, the physical aspect of marriage. As Catholics, we also believe marriage requires up to a year wait between announcing engagement Kiddushin Marriage, and Nassau Marriage. Counseling also states a year wait is advantageous. We must make sure we have S.P.I.C.E. or we will fall back on the physical aspect of marriage, and marriages built on the latter, generally fail.
What we experience in this earthly realm reflects a higher super-reality. Marriage between man and woman follows the model of a cosmic marriage between God, the groom, and Israel/the Church, the Bride of Christ. This wedding also consists of the same two stages. In the first stage, bride and groom do not live together. Rather, the groom goes and prepares a place for his bride.
In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? This is Kiddushin language. The groom goes to prepare the house, and the bride herself. We prepare ourselves by practicing S.P.I.C.E in our lives with everyone on the planet? Through his death and resurrection, Jesus gives the ultimate wedding gift. His ring for the bride is the Passion. He then goes to prepare the new home for his bride.
God descended on Mount Sinai and gave us Torah and Mitzvah. He took His most precious and treasured possession, his Torah, and used it as a wedding band. From that moment onwards, we are His and He is ours. Jesus told him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is Torah incarnate. Jesus does not say the only way to get to heaven is by being in the right earthly club, the church. Rather, he says that he is the way, the truth/Emeth/ and the light. The way to heaven is through his death and resurrection. The fruits of this are S.P.I.C.E with every person on this planet, and with the planet itself. The way is following Torah, which starts with remembering our rescue and who it is that rescued us. That is the prologue to the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy states the prologue as relating, “It is not to your fathers that I gave these Mitzvah/Commandments. It is to you, standing here, this day.” Each generation relives the escape from Egypt in present time, for the first time, each time they celebrate Passover. Our Passover commemorated in the Gospel reading for All Saints, is the Eucharist. We relive the Passion in present time, for the first time, each time we celebrate Eucharist. It is our ticket to the divine dance. Let us live that way.