What to Wear

Homily for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Preached on October 8-9, 2011 at Saint Mary Catholic Church, Perryville KY and Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Readings: Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14

“You have got to be kidding me.”

That was what the parish secretary blurted out when she saw me come into the office in this orange shirt that I had bought on sale. I could not tell whether she meant it as an insult or as a compliment. I knew that not a lot of people look good in orange, but somehow I was convinced that this color complemented my skin tone.

“You have no clue what today is, have you?” she asked me.

I was clueless what the day had anything to do with my shirt. I was quite sure that nobody had died that would have required me to wear mourning clothes. I was convinced that there was no such thing as a National “Do-not-be-caught-wearing-orange” Day. And so, I finally asked the parish secretary, Jane Tucker, what the big deal was.

“Today is the Kentucky-Tennessee game,” she explained. But, I was still clueless what that meant.

“Orange is the Tennessee color.” And I just was not getting it.

“You are wearing the color of the opposing team right in the Big Blue home turf.” That was when it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I went straight back to my room and changed. This much I have learned from living in Kentucky: there are days when what I wear absolutely matters. It tells everyone where my loyalties lie. It makes it crystal clear which side I am on and whom I am are rooting for. And orange, I have learned, is a great color to wear on any other day except when I am visiting the prison or when the Volunteers are in town for a game.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

That was what the king probably said under his breath when he saw what the wedding guest was wearing. Some scholars assume that the guest was in rags since he had been invited off the street (cf. Mt. 22:10). But, the parable does not specify the sort of attire he had on and Christ Himself was not interested in describing the cut of this man’s clothes. The issue, it seems, is not about what he was wearing; it was about what he was not wearing.

The guest convicted himself when he could not come up with a decent defense before the king. “He was reduced to silence” (Mt. 22:12); he could not explain, or even at the very least apologize, for not being dressed in a wedding garment. He knew that what he wore for this wedding mattered. But, instead of showing his gratitude for the king’s invitation by suiting up, he dressed down and offended his host. His choice of fashion flaunted that he was not on the king’s side. So the king did to him what a king does to his enemies; he had the guest thrown out to the curb (cf. Mt. 22:13).

“You have got to be kidding me.”

I hope that none of us ever hear those words from Christ our King when we appear before His throne. So we might as well ask ourselves now why it is that we do not wear our Faith on our sleeve. Why do we not we keep the white wedding garment that we had received at our baptism unstained by regularly washing it in the laundromat of reconciliation? Why do we not let everyone know that our loyalties lie on Heaven’s team? Why do we not make it clear that we are on God’s side and that we are rooting for His Church?

The fact is, by our baptism, we have been clothed in Christ (cf. Gal. 3:27). And you have got to be kidding if you think that wearing anything less will do.

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Sunday, October 9, 2011.

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