Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
How is it that you came in here without a wedding garment? (Matthew 22:12)
Imagine you are set to attend a friend’s wedding in a few hours, but you’re really preoccupied. You’re thinking about everything but the wedding—family, work, car troubles, challenges with the kids, you name it. You throw on your best suit and stop in the kitchen for a quick snack. But in your haste, you accidentally spill your food right down the front of your jacket and pants! There’s no time to do anything about it. So you put on an old jacket, a wrinkled tie, and your best pair of jeans and head out the door.
In a more relaxed social climate, you might actually get away with going “casual” to a wedding like this. But for the unfortunate guest in Jesus’ parable, that didn’t quite work. That’s because at imperial weddings, the guests were provided with lavish garments by the royal host; so it would have been seen as an insult not to wear it.
This is not how we want to appear dressed for the wedding feast that is going on in heaven! We’ve told Jesus we’re coming, and we want to be sure we’re wearing the garment he has provided for us. It’s the garment of purity we received at baptism. It’s the same white garment that the saints in heaven are wearing, the “righteous deeds of the holy ones” (Revelation 19:8). We need to protect it, keep it spotless, and make sure it’s shining brightly when we meet the Lord. But how can we do this?
There are two answers. The first, of course, is prayer—both personal prayer and prayer in the liturgy. When we come before the Lord, we trade in our old dirty cloak for his brand-new raiment. The second is through our “righteous deeds.” Every act of kindness cleans us up a bit more. Every decision to forgive removes our own stains. Every gift given to the needy lifts us up.
When you stop to think about it, it’s not all that hard to wear the right garment. Jesus has given us countless opportunities to do just that—because he wants you to be with him forever!
“Lord, wrap me in the mantle of your grace. May all that I receive from you lead me to care for my brothers and sisters.”
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania