No wedding garment

Published on 07 Oct 2020

Put on Jesus Christ [1].

To ‘put him on’ is to allow him to take over completely. Jesus is worn for best and he is also working clothes.  He is not a coat to be put on or taken off according to the weather or for an occasion. To wear him is to be possessed by him.  Allowing the Lord to be in charge of us is the best thing we can do.  His take-over of our life is worthy of extravagant celebration.  I have my banquet all prepared [2].  

To ‘put on Christ’ changes everything.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts [3]. To be clothed with the Lord is not to cover up our faults with a cloak of virtue.  Being taken over by Christ is to be unified in goodness.  He confers integrity.  To put him on is truly to be what one seems to be. When Jesus is the habit, the habit makes the monk.  He is a veil which does not conceal the truth but rather allows it to be revealed. We are not adopting a disguise when we ‘put on Jesus’, we are living in the most truthful way possible.  He is the kind of garment who transforms the wearer.  The transformation affects every moment. Imitating Christ, we are taken over by him and are at ease in his Father’s house. Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life [4]. We find ourselves in interior harmony and at peace with all those others who also seek to allow themselves to be changed by the Gospel so as to be at home with God forever.

How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment? [5]  The guest without the wedding garment is in real trouble.  It is not that upon receiving an unexpected summons to a celebration really designed for others, a flustered attendee does not quite manage to find some smart clothes.  Rather, someone who in the depths of himself does not want to be in that company is finally understood.  There is disappointment on the king’s side, but also complete respect for the freedom of the guest.  Someone had not put on that which is worn joyfully by all those who are at the wedding-feast of the Lamb.  Everything is ready for the celebration. There are no shortages.  There is no holding back on the host’s side.  God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly, as only God can [6].  Everything has been provided.  So what has gone wrong?  It is much more than a minor failure of good manners. An unhappy guest is signalling that he does not wish to take part. Having been swept into the banqueting-hall with the crowd, he has realised that he does not want to be at this party.

The man was silent [7].  He has nothing to say to the king.  He is speechless before the One who wishes him to be there.  He has no thoughts to share with the host who has provided everything.  He is completely out of place even in a diverse assembly of everyone they could find, bad and good alike [8].  His imperfections are not the problem.  Putting on the necessary garment is, in fact, an admission of sinfulness and a resolve to change.  To put on Christ is to acknowledge a need of him.  Had my friend been among those first invited, he would surely have made some excuse not to attend. One went off to his farm, another to his business [9].  Now, by some mistake, he has joined a celebration in which he has no desire to take part.  He has been made welcome, but he wants nothing of this feast.  Many are called [10].  Into the presence of God, we are all invited. To answer the call we must put on Christ.  Some of us cannot do this.   Few are chosen [11].  The Lord will take us over, but only with our agreement. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength [12].  The strength to accept Jesus is not given to all.  Grace abounds but seems strangely absent from some lives.   God’s choice is not always understood.  At the deepest level, his invitation can be rejected.  The refusal to wear the divine wedding-garment is an emblem of refusing to welcome the Son into our life ; it is to hold back from giving honour and praise to the Father; it is to decide not to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

How did you get in here?  Could the Lord put that question to us?  Could we find ourselves ill at ease in God’s company? Despite God’s gifts and grace, are we ill-equipped for the adventure of faith? Is there some virtue which we lack?  Is there some shabbiness which was not noticed at first but will now attract the righteous wrath of the king?    Not having put on Christ, might we simply not know enough to be in this exalted company?  Our ignorance or foolishness has been exposed.  Throw him out into the dark [13].  The banquet is in the light. It is the fullness of truth.  Its transformations are thorough.   To lose the wedding-garment is not a trivial mistake but a sign that Christ has not been properly put on by one who very much needs to wear the strong armour that he is.  Put on the whole armour of God [14]. We are the guests of the king.  To put on the wedding-garment that is Christ is to be in his way, truth and life [15].   It is by being like Jesus that we come to feel at home in his Father’s house.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ and we long to be like him. We go in to the supper of the Lamb to which we have been so pressingly invited.  Go to the crossroads in the town and invite everyone you can find to the wedding [16].   We live through, in and with a God who both commands and enables.  He loves us utterly and knows us completely.  He wants us to accept his invitation. You have prepared a banquet for me [17]. God deeply desires our company, freely given.   In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell forever and ever [18]. Over and over again he seeks us out.  He endures many rejections. But they would not come [19].

The invitation from God is not embossed on a card on the mantelpiece.  It is written in hearts.  Our name is etched in the heart of Jesus Christ and he inscribes his name in our life.  Spiritually and sacramentally he is with us.  We are called in to talk to God and to listen to him.   The man was silent.  This silence will not do.  A word of repentance is urgently needed.  Such a word comes from the heart.  Could we find ourselves excluded from conversation with God?   Might we find ourselves out of place in his company?  How did you get in here, my friend?  The question is put mildly because even at this late stage the person who has foolishly thrown away what has been provided might still retrieve the presence in his life of the One who is so necessary.   The generosity of God calls everyone in.  He rescues us from what held us back. The Lord will take away his people’s shame [20]. With his help we will once again put on the wedding-garment. Our heart is moved again by a loving desire for the best kind of life. There is nothing I shall want [21].  What once was lacking is now again to hand.  We are allowing ourselves to be clothed once more in that habit, that armour, that garment which is Christ.

Homily by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]              Romans 13.14

[2]              Matthew 22.4

[3]              Colossians 3.14-15

[4]              Psalm (23) 22.6

[5]              Matthew 22.12

[6]              Philippians 4.19

[7]              Matthew 22.12

[8]              Matthew 22.10

[9]              Matthew 22.5

[10]            Matthew 22.14

[11]            Matthew 22.14

[12]            Philippians 4.13

[13]            Matthew 22.13

[14]            Romans 6.10

[15]            John 14.6

[16]            Matthew 22.9

[17]            Psalm (23) 22.5

[18]            Psalm (23) 22.6

[19]            Matthew 22.3

[20]            Isaiah 25.8

[21]            Psalm (223) 22.1