A lamp without a light bulb cannot function. A flashlight without batteries is useless. It is not possible to swim in a swimming pool without water. A dinner without food is not a dinner. A movie theatre with no movies would go out of business. There are many things in life that one without the other makes no sense.
Jesus tells a story in the Gospel about a man who came to a wedding reception without the proper garment for such an occasion (Matthew 22:1-14). In the story, the man without the right clothes was invited in an attempt to fill the hall since the original invitees either refused to come or ignored the invitation. We might wonder why wearing the right clothes is so important, after all, at least the man came.
Yes, he showed up. The problem is that is all he did. The fact that he did not come properly dressed meant that all he cared about was a free meal and a full stomach. Making an effort to wear the appropriate clothes was symbolic of his willingness to contribute something to the banquet. Wearing the proper garment was important because it expressed his willingness to give to the banquet as well as to take from it.
The Church does not exist just to fill up buildings with people. It is important to show up, yes, and how we are clothed also matters. While wearing appropriate attire to church is important, the most important clothing is the clothing of our hearts. The story challenges us to match our efforts to be present at church with lives that are clothed with love, mercy, forgiveness, care and compassion. Families and relationships that are clad with patience, openness, understanding and trust. Hearts that are attired with a willingness to care for the poor, feed the hungry and lift up the marginalized.
Every Sunday we are invited to participate in the Eucharistic Banquet clothed with lives of generous love. One without the other makes no sense.