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 party.
A young woman was invited to a party. It was supposed to be her 50th birthday, sort of surprise party. The invitation card was a simple design. There were a few notes about the location and the time, and a little bullet point footnote concerning the dress code.
Thrilled, she marked the time and place for the party on her calendar but forgot to look at the lower part of the invitation card containing information about the dress code. Like many, she then 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 uncomfortable for the rest of the party. All eyes were on her as the guest of honor. Trust the gossips that can't ignore a mistake. They had their fill. In contrast, she could hardly raise her head. Her excitement for a surprise 50thbirthday was ruined. The thought of "I blew it" filled her mind as the party went on—poor lady.
Now consider the invitation to the Feast of the Lamb by God. It is an invitation extended to all, Jews and gentiles, saints and sinners. The Lord has invited all. You are a special guest. The Lord 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. They also remind us that through the Incarnation (God becoming man in Christ), God and humanity have been espoused (see 2 Corinthians 11, Ephesian 5:25). Thus, the Church is the bride of Christ, and each member of the Church is espoused to God.
Through the sacraments, God's Word, and unmerited graces, we are nourished continuously, 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 God's kingdom's final consummation in heaven.
One of the particularities of the feast is that there is a dress code. I was wondering about that. Surely, it isn't simply faith as John Calvin, the founder of protestant Calvinism, argued. This is 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 is to the wedding feast. He says it’s the garb of charity or love. Other fathers of the Church, like Saints Gregory and Ambrose, support his view too.
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 these 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."
Scripture says, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).
I pray we are renewed continuously and clothed in love and charity. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 20 Ordinary Time: Ex 36:23-28; Mt 22:1-14]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.