Grace to you!
These days, dress code has become a new normal for many parties – birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, fundraisers, etc. Ignoring the information about the dress code puts one at risk of being uncomfortable throughout the course of the party.
A young woman was invited to a party. It was supposed to be her 50th birthday, sort of surprise galore. The invitation card was a simple design; a few notes about the location and the time, and a little bullet footnote concerning the dress code.
Thrilled, she scheduled the time and place for the party, but forgot to look at the lower part where there is information about the dress code. Like many, she tossed the card. When she came to the party, she realized that everybody else was dressed in white and black. She was in cream and red.
She was very uncomfortable for the rest of the feast. All eyes were on her. Trust those gossips that can’t ignore a mistake. They had their fill, while she could hardly raise her head up. Her excitement for a surprise 50th birthday was completely ruined. The thought of “I blew it” dominated her mind as the party went on. Poor lady.
Now consider the invitation to the feast of the Lamb by God, an invitation extended to all, Jews and gentiles, saints and sinners. All are invited; you are actually the special guest. Jesus tells us the story of the nature of the feast in the Gospel of Matthew 22:1-14.
Biblical wedding feast stories remind us of the great joy of God’s kingdom and of the fact that through the Incarnation (God becoming man in Christ), God and humanity have been espoused (see 2 Corinthians 11, Ephesian 5:25), the Church being the bride of Christ and each member of the Church espoused to God.
Through the sacraments, God’s Word and unmerited graces, we are constantly nourished, and the robe of righteousness is clad. By faith and through baptism, we are engrafted as part of that family of God. We started to participate in the feast in a little way, while anticipating the final consummation in God’s kingdom in heaven.
One of the particularities of the feast is that there is a dress code. I was wondering what that is? Surely, it isn’t simply faith as John Calvin, the founder of protestant Calvinism argued, because to honor the invitation and be welcome into the feast suggests the person already has faith. The invitation is accepted by faith. Faith opens the door.
I love Saint Augustine’s explanation of what this dress code to the wedding feast is. Other fathers of the Church like Saints Gregory and Ambrose support his view too. He says it’s the garb of charity or love.
The righteous garment of charity understood as love endures. As Saint Paul said, “there are three things that last – faith, hope and charity (love) and the greatest of this is charity” (I Corinthian 13:13).
I love this poetic line by Bernard Sexton, whose song Ubi Caritas et Amor is one of my favorites during the Holy Thursday celebration of the Lord’s Supper, “Where love and charity abide, there God is found.”
I pray we are constantly renewed and clothed in love and charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.