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.
In these days of the pandemic, the Eucharistic Banquet of the Mass has had limited accessibility as we have complied with the regulations regarding numbers allowed for inside celebrations. Many have reluctantly stayed at home in order to safeguard their health and the health of others. When we are able to come to church, how we are clothed matters. The clothing that is most important, whether we are present in person or not, is the clothing of our hearts. The Gospel story challenges us to match our efforts to participate in the rituals of the 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.
Whether or not we are able to participate in person at the Eucharistic Banquet, all of us are exhorted to match our participation in the life of the Church with lives clothed with generous love. One without the other makes no sense.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector