1Cor 7:25-31; Ps 45:11-17; Lk 6:20-26
All through the history of the church, men and women have given themselves over to virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of God. It is with gladness and joy that these souls have heard the voice of the Divine Bridegroom and responded. Without hesitation and regret these joyful virgins follow the Lamb of God wherever he may lead. They behold the Beloved and turn their ears to his voice; they forget their own plans and gladly leave their parents home. The very King of the Universe desires their beauty; he is the Lord and there is no other who has such an absolute claim upon their souls. The all-glorious King’s daughter, the Theotokos, the Mother of God, Mary most holy enters the courts of heaven; her raiment is threaded with spun gold. In embroidered apparel dazzles the eyes as she is borne in to the King. Behind her are all the other virgins; they are born in with gladness and joy. This grand assembly of the Church, the Bride of Christ, enters the palace of the King with delight unspeakable. Such is the vision of our future glory as we gladly save ourselves for the only true Divine Spouse who is faithful to us unto the ages of ages. Indeed, a life of faithful marriage here on earth is only a novitiate when it comes to our heavenly home. Indeed, a life of faithful consecrated virginity here on earth is only a glimpse of the eternal splendor of Nuptial Bliss with the King of Glory. Saint Paul counsels his beloved Corinthian Church to honor the virgins among them and the vocation of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, because the world in its present form is passing away. When the powerful of this world exclude and insult us, the Lord Jesus summons us to rejoice and leap for joy for the blessedness of the Kingdom of God is upon us. Here at this Liturgy the Kingdom has begun; because where the King is, there is the Kingdom.
Because of the present distress, Saint Paul was asked to share his opinion about the vocation of virginity. The brothers and sisters in the early Corinthian Community wondered about the value of marriage because they thought that the arrival of the Kingdom was eminent. Saint Paul did not deny the witness value of either marriage or virginity. He did think it best for a person to remain as he is. If one is bound in marriage, remain faithful to your covenant. Do not seek to separate from your spouse for the sake of God’s Kingdom. If one is not bound in marriage, remain a virgin for the Lord. Do not seek a spouse. Neither marriage nor virginity is a sin. However, the Apostle wants his brothers and sisters in Christ to be spared the afflictions that come during our earthly sojourn. He awesome responsibility of marriage and family will demand great sacrifice and unavoidable suffering. Without sacrifice there is no love and without love marriage is barren, empty, and deadly. The same is true of consecrated virgins; they too must sacrifice out of love for the spiritual children the Lord will bring into their lives. Married or virgin, we must be detached from this world and all its attractions because time is running out. No matter how much we must invest in this world and in the things of this world, we must not be permanently attached because this world in its present form is passing away. Such urgency about the end of the world is still a blessed part of our witness in the world; as married or as virgins, we are still citizens of a heavenly homeland.
Looking with great love upon his disciples, the Lord Jesus beheld them as they are already, truly blessed. In poverty, hunger, weeping, and persecution, they are blessed because the Kingdom of God is already theirs. In all their really painful and daily human longings they find true blessedness because they rely completely upon the Lord Jesus who is their true blessedness in this world and in heaven. Indeed, these simple disciples have the prophets for their ancestors. They are like the true prophets of the Old Testament because they listen with their hearts and respond with the dedication of their entire lives. Their persecutors have ancestors who treated the prophets without respect. Indeed, they excluded, insulted, and denounced those who heard the Lord’s word of challenge and comfort and spoke the Lord’s message in season and out of season, when the people wanted to hear it and when they did not want to hear it. Looking with an even greater love, the Lord gazed upon those who are rich, filled, laughing, and praised by the people; he gazed upon them with great sadness because of their woe, because all that they enjoy now is passing away and their woe will last for endless ages.