First published in the Umatuna, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam, 11/28/99.
In the Gospel we hear about the man who was thrown out of the wedding feast for not wearing the proper garment. He was not just asked to leave. He was ordered to be bound hand and foot and thrown out into the night to wail and grind his teeth. Talk about wearing the wrong suit!
Though I am not advocating the binding up of ill-dressed people hand and foot and throwing them out of church to wail and grind their teeth, it seems to this particular Catholic that there should be some point made here about the proper attire for the most glorious Feast of all, the Mass.
I am a relatively recent convert to the idea of respectful attire at Mass. Not long ago I was laying on the carpet of a university chapel, barefoot, unshaven, worn out jeans, tank top, the works, while “attending” Mass with several other similarly clad folks. “Hey God loves me for who I am, not what I wear” was the popular anthem amongst our age. It was fashionable to further justify ourselves by suspecting as a hypocrite anyone who dressed up for church.
I can’t say when it was, but probably after hearing this Gospel passage a few years ago, that I was struck by the fact that I put more effort into my appearance to go to a party and be presentable to my friends and business associates than I did to go to the Banquet of the Lord and present myself before the King.
“Hey, this is Guam”, I would say to myself, “It’s casual, man. Besides it’s hot, etc., etc.” But the fact remained that I would dress better to go to the Governor’s party than I would to go to the King’s. It came down to this: Is this really the house of God? Is this really the Body & Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Do I really believe that I am going to kneel before the King? Well?
No, I don’t mean tuxes and gowns. We’re talking about respect here. You figure it out. (Though it would certainly help if we could receive some occasional guidance from the pulpit.)
Meanwhile, let us remember that this is The Mass, the Eucharistic Miracle, the precise intersection of Heaven and Earth, a window on Eternity, the actual Body and Blood of Him who made us and saved us and Who would bring us to Himself into all Eternity, to Fianl Banquet, the Feast of all feasts. Dress up, man. Shine your shoes! Eternity is a long time to grind your teeth.
November 28, 1999