The more I reflected on Jesus' parable in yesterday's gospel reading (Matthew 22:1-14), the more I was inclined to see in it a call to sanctification, to holiness. Rev. Cattenhead's sermon certainly pointed us in that direction. My sermon went that way, as well.
I concluded the sermon, "It is not enough to show up and make the celebration about your personal gain. To believe is to act. To be part of a faith community is to learn the ways of the faith. To accept an invitation is to be willing to fulfill the commitment that comes with it.
"Jesus is consistent - the good and the bad are welcome, fill up the place with those who want to celebrate with him, just don't think the celebration is primarily about you."
So much of religion is packaged as being all about us or, more accurately, all about me and you (singularly). The invitation to a personal relationship with Jesus is not meant to make the faith about "God and me" and it certainly isn't meant to diminish into "What can I get out of it."
The man in the parable who didn't have a wedding robe was so self-consumed that he did not notice how out of step he was with the purpose and ways of the banquet. If the banquet was for him, he could set the dress code and menu and activities. Unfortunately for him and for the king, he missed that it wasn't primarily about him, except in that he was invited in to honor the one for whom the banquet was intended in the first place.
The more we can shed our clothing of self-centeredness and conceit and don the appropriate clothing, the more we will honor the king and the greater will be our assurance that we get to remain in the banquet.
What is the appropriate attire? Take it from St. Paul, "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience...Above all, clothe yourselves with love" (Colossians 3:12, 14).