Our Wedding Garment

yanchepcatholic.org

“My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?”

(Matthew 22:12)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

 

The wedding industry is a lucrative billion-dollar industry. Mention the word “wedding” and most people would envision beautiful dresses, romantic flowers and nuptial vows of faithfulness that will last unto all eternity. It doesn’t matter that statistically speaking, many who uttered those vows would eventually disregard them and be disenchanted with their marriages. The allure of an infinite and endless love speaks to our hearts in a deep and abiding way. Thus, notwithstanding the cruelties of this world and our countless heartbreaks, we remain forever enchanted and mesmerized by a beautiful wedding.

At the heart of each fairy tale wedding is the wedding dress. All brides want to look their best on their wedding day. Many brides-to-be spend months exercising and adjusting their diets so as to have that ‘perfect body’ on their wedding day. They spent countless hours looking for the perfect dress, sparing no expense in procuring it for that most beautiful day. It doesn’t matter that the dress will most likely only be worn once, and for a couple of hours at most. A wedding signifies love, and love is meant to be forever, infinite, and perfect. That is why, notwithstanding the dissolution of our traditional marriage institution, beautiful weddings continue to enchant and captivate us.

If we can spend so much time and effort for a wedding that merely lasts a day, that is but a faint glimpse of the eternal Love of Heaven, how much more time and effort must we spend to prepare our souls for Eternity! At every Mass, these words are proclaimed:

Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

We need to understand that this supper of the Lamb—Christ’s wedding banquet—is not some sort of heavenly orgy, where guests gorge themselves on delicious platter until the end of time. Rather, it is a banquet of love and faithfulness, where our original identity as the crown of Creation is restored. As Scriptures proclaim multiple times:

 

The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him[1].

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light[2].

 

It may be easier to understand this seemingly high-sounding language if we think of the ancient Israelites, whom the Lord rescued out of slavery in Egypt. The Lord promised to rescue them, redeem them and carry them on eagle’s wings to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey[3]. However, when they went out of Egypt, it was not a fertile land that they were confronted with, but a barren desert! This journey through the desert was actually meant to teach them the heart of God—their King, Redeemer and Deliverer—so that when they entered the Promised Land, they would be ready to receive their inheritance and exercise their God-given authority. But most of the ancient Israelites, accustomed to centuries of cruel enslavement, simply couldn’t put their trust in such a lavish Love. They constantly suspected God of cooking up evil plans for them, and continually grumbled against Him[4]. It is no wonder, then, that when they arrived near the Promised Land, most of them were too terrified to enter that land, and wanted to go back to Egypt instead[5]!

Scripture proclaims that these things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did[6]:

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.[7]

My dear friends, when we were baptized into Christ, it is as if we were given a clean, simple white garment to put on. We have resolved to cast aside the filthy, soiled garment of our sinful nature. As we journey through our earthly pilgrimage, we’re continually being invited to respond faithfully to Christ, to abide and grow in His love[8]. It is thus that we shall slowly but surely be transformed into His divine likeness, and so be prepared to live and reign with Him in Heaven[9].

Unfortunately, many of us do not live with eyes fixed on that place we call Home. Instead, too often we fix our eyes on the desert of this life. We grumble against God when the journey becomes difficult and perplexing, forgetting that even the Christ had to suffer these things before entering His glory[10]. Instead of continually cleansing our baptismal garment with the Word and the Sacraments[11], adding to its beauty the jewels of virtue and perseverance[12], too often we soil and tear our baptismal clothes through our forgetfulness and unfaithfulness to Christ.

As we approach the solemnities of All Saints’ and All Souls’, let us take some time to ponder our Destination—that Wedding Banquet to which we are all called. Is our wedding garment ready? Are we careful to keep it clean and pure, remembering the One who has redeemed us by His own blood? Heaven, after all, is not simply a one-way ticket to infinite pleasure. It is so much more than that. First and foremost, Heaven is about coming Home—to our Creator and Heavenly Father, who has loved us so much that He gave us His one and only Son to redeem us from our sins, and His Spirit to be with us forever.

When we see our heavenly Father face to face at Home[13], will we have much to be ashamed of? Will He see in us those qualities necessary for Heaven, chief of which is love for His Son Jesus Christ? Will that encounter be one of pride and joy (Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy[14]), or will it be one tinged with sadness, as He sees our tattered and soiled garment, the result of a lifetime of worldly forgetfulness?

Let us not live our lives like those who are uncertain of their Destination. Instead, let us endeavour to live a life that is pleasing to Him[15], ever mindful of that Homecoming banquet that awaits us at the end of our journey. As we remember the saints in Heaven and the souls in Purgatory, who are still being purified by the flames of divine love, let us remember our own infinitely priceless souls, for whom Christ has suffered and died. Let us resolve keep it clean and pure, in expectation of that wedding banquet in our Father’s Home.

 

All holy men and women, Saints of God, pray for us!

 

 

[1] Romans 8:16-17

[2] 1 Peter 2:9

[3] Exodus 3:7-8, 6:6-8, 19:4-6.

[4] Exodus 14:11-12, 16:3, 17:3; Numbers 11:4-6.

[5] Numbers 14:1-4

[6] 1 Corinthians 10:6

[7] 1 Corinthians 10:11-13

[8] John 15:9, Ephesians 4:15-16

[9] 2 Corinthians 3:18; Revelation 2:26-27, 22:5.

[10] Luke 24:26

[11] Ephesians 5:26

[12] Cf. 2 Peter 1:5-11

[13] 1 Corinthians 13:12, 1 John 3:1-2

[14] Matthew 25:21, 23

[15] Colossians 1:10-14

SHARE
Previous articleSainte Marguerite D’Youville: A Poetic Retrospective
Next articleHubris and Squeezing Stones
Audrey Yu is a Chinese Indonesian teacher and author, currently living and working in Shanghai. She graduated Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from The College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA at the age of 16. Some of her books have been archived by various institutions worldwide, including The National Library of Congress, Yale University, Harvard University, The National Library of Australia and many others. By the grace of God, she was received into the Catholic church three years ago. Her personal website can be accessed at www.audreyyujiahui.com.