The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
As I read the Gospel for this Sunday I had to smile. Without a doubt, we Catholics have gotten part of it right “… go and take the lowest place” or in our case, the last pew. Many of us are nervous about having to sit in any of those pews close to the front.
I encourage you to read further on in the Gospel and notice where St. Luke mentions that the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind should be invited to the banquet. Consider this: Jesus as the “host” of our liturgies has issued his Gospel invitation.
When you come to Mass this Sunday, who will you be? It appears from the Gospel that coming as one of the distinguished guests is not an option, rather reflect on what part of your mind, body or spirit is poor, lame or blind. It is humbling for us to realize that we are just as broken as everyone else gathered around us. Then again, perhaps it is this very realization that draws us to Jesus in the Eucharist in the first place.
On a more practical level, call to mind another Gospel passage that spoke of a poor man who was invited to the banquet and then was expelled for not wearing the proper garment. This seems like quite a contraction, if Jesus invites us to his banquet knowing that we are “poor,” why is he enforcing a dress code? At the time that the Gospel was written, special garments were made available for guests; they simply had to make the effort to put them on. The man chose not to do so. Thus, he was asked to leave. The same holds for us today. We may be coming to the liturgy poor, literally or figuratively, but we do not have to look bedraggled. Of course, God probably doesn’t care if we are wearing a sweatshirt or a green blouse, or if we put on brown shoes with the black slacks. And most likely it does not matter to him about bright pink hair or jogging pants. Nevertheless, it should matter to us.
When going to Mass, we sometimes (often) slip into the same clothes we wear to go grocery shopping, golfing or to an athletic event. How we dress for any occasion not only indicates how we feel about it, but also frames our attitude at the event. The time we spend in church should be special to us. We’ve been invited to the banquet of all banquets.
It’s easy to fall back on the easy excuse — “at least I am going to Mass.” Challenge yourself. Plan what you wear to church. Scan your closet for those “Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes.” Raise the bar. If your usual Sunday attire is jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes, get just a little more dressy. Don’t do it to impress others, do it out of love. Do it as an act of gratitude to our Lord. He invited you — blind, poor or broken — to his banquet.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.