My sermon for today was based on Matthew 22:1-14.
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Most of us spend at least a few minutes every morning deciding what to wear. We want to dress appropriately, depending on the situation(s) we will face throughout the day. I for one don't feel there is necessarily anything wrong with this, but there is a corollary to this which often goes unconsidered.
While we dedicate time every day deciding how to clothe our bodies, do we also dedicate time to deciding how to clothe our souls?
To phrase it somewhat less esoterically, we decide every day how we will look to people. Do we also take the time to decide how we will treat people?
Do we, for example, "clothe" ourselves every day with justice, peace, mercy, compassion, all the virtues we consider good and Godly?
Part of this Gospel passage deals with the metaphor of clothing, and I would like to focus on that aspect of the passage.
This Gospel passage is actually a mash-up of two pieces of Rabbinical wisdom with which Jesus' listeners would have been well familiar, but which are generally lost on the modern reader, or at least so deeply buried in metaphor and hyperbole that the wisdom contained therein is often lost.
The first has to do with being prepared (the king calling his guests for the feast), the second has to do with being appropriately "attired" for the event.
I want to focus on the second lesson. Even in this day and age, we are expected to be appropriately attired for certain events. We are expected to not wear pyjamas to a job interview. We don't wear miniskirts to a funeral. We don't wear shorts and sandals to a wedding (unless it's that kind of wedding). But in ancient Judaism, that cultural imperative was much more serious.
So when this guy shows up for a special event and he is not appropriately attired, he is dealt with quite severely by the king. The king's reaction in Jesus' parable is well over the top. Jesus is trying to make a point.
The point is that we should be appropriately "attired" for special events. But Jesus was not shallow: he most certainly was not talking about clothing or physical appearance. Jesus always stressed spiritual values over material ones.
Jesus, I think, is talking about being spiritually attired for the outside world, demonstrating virtue in the world.
Are we more concerned with how we look rather than how we act?
Let's be properly dressed for the occasion.