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What Are You Wearing?

October 15, 2017


A reflection for the 28th Sunday, Ordinary time, Year A. The readings are Isaiah 25:6-10, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20 and Matthew 22:1-14.

I don’t like ties. I really don’t. On one hand, I do think it’s cool how 60-70 years ago everyone wore a tie every day. If you went to school; you wore a tie. If you went to work; you wore a tie. If you went to Church; you wore a tie. If you went out; you wore a tie. That’s what men wore. But on the other hand, I think ties are completely useless. They serve no purpose and I don’t like wearing them. Who decided that wearing a tie is what’s formal? And why do I have to wear a suit jacket? What makes that formal? If it’s cold, I’ll wear a jacket, but just to be formal? Why can’t I just wear a nice shirt? I’m probably the guy that get’s kicked out of the wedding ‘cause I’m not wearing a tie!

Of course, Jesus is not really speaking about clothing and he’s not even speaking about a real wedding either.

The first reading, from the Book of Isaiah, presents us with a beautiful image of Heaven. That image includes a ‘feast of rich food’. That’s an image of Heaven. And in the time of Jesus, that’s what a wedding banquet was. THey didn’t celebrate birthdays or anniversaries. They had Religious Feasts and Weddings. And weddings were huge banquets with lots of food. Not, ‘so much food’ that’s wasteful – I was at a wedding recently, and you’ve been to these Banquet halls… You walk in and there’s this huge antipasto buffet: all the antipasto, salad, cheeses, hams, mussels…. Way too much food. I was done after the antipasto bar. And then you sit down and they bring you the five-course dinner: the salad and the risotto and the pasta and the meat – and it’s not a choice of beef OR chicken; you get both! And that comes with vegetables and potatoes! Way too much food. And then, at midnight when they open the dessert table, there was also a poutine bar (’cause that’s what everyone needs to eat at midnight) and they brought out a porchetta: a suckling pig so everyone can have pork sandwiches. That’s way too much food.

Heaven won’t be wasteful like that – but think of your favourite food – that delicious food you love and don’t have very often…. That’s Heaven. You’ll have a feast of that rich food.

And we’re all invited.

The thing is we don’t always want to go. We’d rather stay out in the back alley eating out of the dumpster.

In the image that Jesus presents us, the King invites the special guests and they don’t want to come. So he goes to call them again in case maybe they misunderstood or they got the wrong date, and they kill his messengers. So he sends out his army to destroy the city (a bit of overkill). He then invites everyone else: all the riff-raff. This doesn’t make much sense as we imagine Heaven – but if you think of it, it does make sense, especially when we remember that the Gospel of Matthew was written 50-60 years after the Resurrection. When the Gospel of Matthew is written God has already sent his Son; the Jews have already rejected Jesus; Jesus has already been killed and Jerusalem has already been destroyed by the Romans. At the time that the Gospel is being written, it was mostly pagans – the non-Jews – who were becoming Christians. This is why the idea that all are welcome was very important at the time that the Gospel is being written.

But then there’s this poor guy who’s not wearing a tie. Again, Jesus is not speaking about clothing. He’s not giving us clothing advice. In Scriptures, clothing refers to the person’s moral state; to their behaviour. That’s why St. Paul can tell us to ‘clothe yourselves in Jesus Christ’ (Rom 3:14) and to ‘put on Christ’ (Gal 3:27). All of us were clothed with Christ at our baptism. But how many of us are still wearing our baptismal garment? How many of us remember our baptismal promises? How many of us are living our baptism? Do you even know your baptismal promises? If you don’t, go look it up. It’s your homework.

We get our wedding garment at baptism and then, slowly, with time, we lose it – little by little. No so much because of sin – although there is sin – but because of life. Because we get busy. And because we don’t really want that Wedding Banquet that much. We’re not really thinking of Heaven.

I heard a story recently about a Chinese man – you know that it’s not legal to be Catholic in China. So there’s an underground Church. And this man was having Mass at his house. The police came – they were able to get the priest out and all the people scattered before the police arrived, but this man was arrested. They tried to get him to confess, to give up the identity and the whereabouts of the priest. He would not. For six months they tortured him, but he would not give in. After six months, they figured they would not get anything out of this man, so they let him go. Soon after that, he was able to leave China and move as a refugee to the United States.

At first, he was amazed at how it’s so easy to be Catholic in the U.S. There’s Mass everywhere and all the time. There are so many churches and priests. And not only could he go to Mass on Sunday, but he could go every day! But, as it is with new immigrants trying to make a life for themselves, he was not able to go to daily Mass, but he still went on Sundays. But in time, he also go busy with life – trying to make a better life for himself and his children. So he began to go to Mass less and less. Until now, he’s successful, has a comfortable life, he works hard – and he only goes to Mass at Christmas and Easter. This man, who would not give up his Catholic faith even under six months of torture by the Chinese government; after a few years in the United States, completely lost his Faith. Because of our individualistic, materialistic, consumerist society. That’s what happens to us. We get busy. We have to work. We have soccer or hockey. We need to sleep. Surely God wants us to sleep and spend time with our family… We’re not really thinking of God or Heaven.

Today we are presented with a beautiful image. A wonderful banquet where all are invited. All are welcomed. It’s true. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, what you’re doing or what you will do, Jesus Christ has redeemed you. Everyone has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, good or bad, everyone, yes, even Hitler. But it’s easy to think that all we have to do is be redeemed because God is so good and merciful. It’s not that easy. We have to accept Jesus Christ and follow Him. We have to live our baptism.

So, two questions for you today: What are you wearing and is it the right clothing so you don’t get kicked out of the Banquet?

Because all are called, but only a few are chosen.

But it’s really easy to change your wardrobe.

For all things are possible through God who gives us strength! (Phil 4:13)

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From → English, Reflections

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