THEME: DRESSING UP FOR HEAVEN
READINGS: Isaiah 25:6-10/ Phil. 4:12-14, 19-20 / Matthew 22:1-14
28th Sunday In Ordinary Time
In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah paints a picture of the exceeding joy of heaven with a joyful feast in which there is abundance of rich food and best wines (cf. Isaiah 25:6). Similarly, in the parable of today’s gospel, our Lord Jesus Christ uses a wedding feast of rich food and wines to describe the exceeding joy of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Matthew 22:1-4).
Now, in the parable, though the invitation to the wedding was opened to all, the man who went to the feast without a wedding garment was thrown out (cf. Matthew 22:11-13). Similarly, though God’s invitation to the heavenly feast is opened to all, only those who adorn their “heavenly garments” will enjoy the feast.
As it is customary to find people in their best clothes when attending weddings, so the Lord expects us to be in our best spiritual clothes when attending the heavenly feast. What, then, is our best spiritual dress for heaven? The Letter to the Colossians helps us to find the answer to this question. It reads: “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:12-14).
Part of the first verse of the above biblical passage reads: “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved” (Col. 3:12). That is, those chosen by God and whom He loves are supposed to be holy. Now, let us take the entire first verse: “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:12). Thus, holiness is like a garment with which God’s chosen people clothe themselves. Beloved, holiness is the spiritual garment which befits heaven. And as one’s wedding outfit is made up of several pieces (e.g. shirt/dress, trousers, suit, belt, hat, etc.) so holiness consists of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, etc. with love as the belt which holds the dresses together (cf. Col. 3:12-14).
Today, many people put in a lot to think about and choose the quality of the fabric, colour combinations, the style of the dress, the tailor/seamstress to sew it, etc. Similarly, let us put more effort in showing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. Let us consider the virtue of compassion for further illustration. To aid us to put more effort in the way we show compassion we may consider the following questions: Does the feeling of compassion towards the poor and needy still burn in my heart? Do I go beyond my feeling to actually help the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, etc.? How often? Can I help them more often than I presently do? When will I begin to help them the more? We can ask similar questions with regard to the virtues of humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, etc.
Beloved, as people plan and place an order for their wedding garments long before the feast, so let us begin to sew our garments of holiness now by carefully and constantly practising the virtues mentioned above. Finally, may Christ, the Divine Fashion Designer, find the qualities of our spiritual fabrics suitable for the high standard of the garments of holiness which He produces. Amen!
By Most Rev. John Kobina Louis