The Gospel's story of bringing the bride to the groom's village mirrors what still happens in the Third World.

Friday, 8/31/12

Allow me to become nostalgic over this Gospel, as I recall my experiences with weddings in the East that followed the pattern in this Gospel. As in Our Lord’s story, in the Korean countryside where I officiated at dozens of weddings back fifty years ago, the marriages had two wedding feasts. The first was at the girl’s village where the groom and his six men friends were guests.

The banqueting in the girl’s village lasted as long as the food and wine lasted. On  two occasions I saw a special country ritual that had the young men of the girl’s village tying  a rope around the groom’s ankles, then hoisting him high over a branch. While he dangled and shouted, the young men whacked him in punishment for taking a pretty girl away from them.

In my first year in that parish I had an army jeep that the government soon relieved me of. While I still had it, I several times drove the young couple to the boy’s village. I recall one young groom from the back seat bragging about the food and drink that would be laid out in his village. He said, “Opnungot opsumnida.” Which literally meant, “The things that aren’t there, aren’t there.”

The bride through both ceremonies and the ride between their villages was bound to be silent with downcast eyes. Her lipstick was applied in a tiny bow that only covered the center of her lips. I had a shotgun by my side in the jeep, and in passing between a wide spread of rice paddies the bride spotted pheasants out there feeding on dropped grain. Unable to contain herself she shouted, “Gwong,” for pheasants. As I went out for them, the bride hiked up her wedding gown and followed.

Folks in the Third World get more out of the Gospels than we do, because their marketing and celebrating customs are so similar to those in the stories Jesus told.

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