By Deacon Derick Cranston
Is there really a dress code to get into heaven? Will we be kicked out if we do not wear the proper attire? Are St. Peter and the angels the fashion police? That would appear to be the case in last Sunday’s Gospel.
However, like many Scripture passages, it has an underlying meaning. At first glance, we read about a grand wedding feast that Jesus likens to the Kingdom of Heaven that a king throws for his son. During the celebration, one of those invited is kicked out because he is not properly dressed.
Not only is he kicked out, but the king tells his attendants to “…bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” Yikes! Sounds like a very harsh penalty for not dressing appropriately. What is Jesus trying to tell us?
In a culture based on strict codes of honor and shame, people expected you to do your part to honor the host who invited you to a wedding feast. You showed your appreciation by wearing the best garments you had. If you did not, your appearance conveyed a deep insult to the host who honored you by inviting you to the wedding feast.
To put it in a modern context: your daughter has a wedding and during the reception, one of the guests you invited shows up very drunk. He is loud and obnoxious, tells people that he is only there for the free food and booze, and bumps into the wedding cake and knocks it over. How would you feel?
The Gospel reading speaks of clothing in another sense, spiritual — not material. God invites us to the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb,” the paradise known as heaven. We must clothe ourselves in garments of love and appreciation and not take for granted that we deserve this invitation.
Prayerfully consider that Christ died on the cross so you could receive an “invitation” to heaven. Ask yourself if you are willing to take off the shabby rags of selfishness and hate. Are you able to adorn yourself with the garments of love and forgiveness, and honor the King of Kings?
(Deacon Cranston is pastoral associate for St. Mary Parish in Riverside, Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond and St. Joseph Parish in Wellman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)