My Sisters and Brothers! In the Gospel we heard about a man not wearing a wedding garment. To avoid misunderstanding, like it happened in the African jungle, let’s reflect on what that mysterious garment was all about. Two events from the Bible I would like to recall today.
The first one is from the Book of Genesis. After the people sinned they their eyes were opened and they realized that they were….naked. That’s right. They hoped to be like God but they lost their innocence, their dignity. What did they do next? “They sewed the fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-clothes.” However their first garment couldn’t cover their shame, their guilt, and their anger. They hid themselves from God as if God were to look lustfully at them. Because of their sin they didn’t see purity and respect in God’s eyes but only the reflection of their own lust and passions. How many people around us stay away from God like Adam and Eve did. They stay away from God because all they see is their sin and shame. They don’t want to look into God’s eyes because all they see is their own sinful past they want to erase.
What did God do for Adam and Eve before He expelled them from Paradise? “God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on.” They didn’t wear silk, wool or cotton but skins. How skins are obtained? An animal must be killed first. As Adam and Eve were walking out of Paradise wearing skins it was promised to them that the guilt and shame they have brought upon themselves and the whole humankind were to be taken away by the blood of the Innocent Lamb crucified on Good Friday - Christ the Lord.
The second event I would like to talk about is Jesus’ death itself. In the Gospel of John we read that: “When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it among themselves.” Those who had the Blood of Jesus on their hands were given Jesus’ clothing. He was humiliated on the cross so that they and we could be given our dignity back. On the cross our sin was forgiven. The wedding garment Jesus spoke of in the Gospel is God’s forgiveness enveloping us as the best outfit we could find. But God doesn’t force it on us. He offers it to us. How can we tell that somebody wears this wedding garment, God’s forgiveness? When people forgive others. When people acknowledge their own sins and are sorry for them. When people dream and pray not to sin any more because they know how much it cost Jesus to forgive us our sins. Behind his words: I forgive you there is hidden his sacrifice on the cross. Remember the animals killed to cover the shame and guilt of Adam and Eve. Jesus gave his life to cover what those skins of animals would never cover: our guilt, shame, embarrassment etc.
My Dear Friends! As you have observed our priests dress a bit differently to the rest of the congregation. Have you observed that? Great! You are very observant! I guess that this green chasuble stands out but let me draw your attention to this white alb underneath. You don’t need to be a priest or a bishop to wear it. Any person coming to the Catholic Church puts on this robe after being baptized. It is a baptismal garment, the robe that reminds of God’s forgiveness. When I walk into a church to celebrate Mass it is not a royal entrance but it is the entrance of a sinner who has been forgiven and who wants to extend forgiveness to others. You know what? You don’t need to be a priest to forgive those who have wronged you. But when you rejoice for being forgiven and forgive others, even if you walk about in your plain clothes God sees that you are wearing the wedding garment.