DRESSING UP FOR CHURCH
(Sunday, September 10)
“…Then he (the king) said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and ...he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22: 8-14)
Christ invites all of us, “both bad and good,” to His “wedding feast.” What is that? It’s the “feast” or celebration of His new-found union with all of humanity, all of us, as a consequence of His Incarnation, or His stepping into our shoes. In His becoming Man, and taking on our flesh and blood, He offers us a more perfect, more intimate, communion with Him. In fact He invites us to partake of His flesh and blood, not only spiritually, but also physically, in Holy Communion. But for this, we must at least be dressed appropriately, in a “wedding garment.” Also physically.
Now I know that we, traditionally, tend to “spiritualize” this image. We say that it means being ready for Holy Communion “spiritually,” having said all our prayers and so on. But I’d like to note the more literal meaning of this passage. And that is, that we should “dress up” for church, for the celebration of Divine Liturgy. Because “dressing up,” literally, – and I mean, our fashion-choices on a Sunday-morning, before we go to church, – are not an unimportant expression of our attitude toward the “feast” or celebration at hand. We can, and should, “dress up” for church. For some of us, in fact, who do not have the time to read all the prayers required for preparation for Holy Communion, it may be the only thing we can do. But it is no unimportant thing. It is a small effort, to honor the “King” inviting us to His feast, and He does note and honor this effort. So let me “dress up” for church today, because Christ The King, my King, does recognize my small efforts to prepare for His feast, not only spiritual efforts, but also physical ones.