December 21, 2021

My lover speaks; he says to me, “Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.”

“What in the world is this doing in the Bible?” This is not an uncommon reaction to a first encounter with the Song of Songs. It is a love song between a man and a woman full of lush and sometimes erotic imagery, which hardly seems appropriate for Scripture. But here it is, in our Bible and our lectionary reading less than a week before Christmas.

Divine love and human love are not, of course, mutually exclusive. Human love, at its best, can be a glimpse, a reflection, of God’s love. Many Church Fathers did see the Song as describing the extravagant love of God for his people and the faithful love of the people for God. In our own culture, so saturated with sexual images but sorely lacking in prominent examples of lifelong faithful love, note that the text celebrates love between a man and a woman marked by mutuality and fidelity.

In these Masses leading up to Christmas, it is good to have occasion to reflect more deeply on the passionate love God has for us. Mass also grounds the love that should characterize our relationship with God. It is too easy to fear God—or at least fear going to hell. Celebrating the depth of Christ’s love for us that led him to offer his life on the cross should be sufficient for love to characterize our relationship with him. It should also characterize our relationship with our sisters and brothers; we are all one family in Christ.

Let Us Pray:

O loving and ever-faithful God, help me to appreciate the depth of your love for us. May I always trust that love and love you in return.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.