ESSAY: Wedding garment

By: Simeon Dumdum Jr. October 14,2017 - 10:18 PM

Lately, the wife and I stood as sponsors at the wedding of her cousin’s son. When notified of this, she was at a loss to find the right gown.

Her wardrobe did not have a formal dress with the prescribed color — red — and so we scoured the shops in the malls for it.

We found one, but it required a little alteration to fit her, well, Rubenesque curves, and the outfitter could not assure us that she could finish it before the wedding. After some pressing, however, she agreed to do her utmost to have the gown ready before zero hour.

Perhaps because of our age and links (we have an abundance of relatives and friends), we get invited to many a wedding. Of course, we feel honored to be remembered for such a special occasion, and, accordingly, make it a point to attend.

But when the invitation specifies that we likewise come as sponsors, we find ourselves asking questions that occasionally unsettle, and, more often than not, concern the wife — such as what to wear and if we have it in the cupboard.

But I likewise get perturbed at times. Especially when a parable of Jesus that Matthew narrates in his Gospel comes to mind.

It has to do with a wedding feast a king was giving for his son. The guests that he invited refused to come.

He sent his servants to summon the guests again, with instructions to convey this urgent message, “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.” Still they ignored the invitation — some went to their farm, others to their business, and some even went to the extent of laying their hands on and killing the messengers, which drew the ire of the king, who sent his soldiers to kill the murderers and destroy their city.

The king then commanded his servants to go to all the public places and invite everyone without exception, and in no time the banquet hall was filled with people. But there the king saw someone who was not dressed in a wedding garment, and could not answer when he asked him, “My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?”

Jesus concludes the parable with these words: “Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Bishop Robert Barron remarked that, in this parable, Jesus employed a little exaggeration in order to drive home his point. Barron quoted Flannery O’Connor, who, to justify her graphic writing style, said, “To the hard of hearing you shout.”

To describe the essence of the kingdom of heaven to the Jews, who not only ignored but were also hostile to him, Jesus spoke of a wedding feast arranged by no less than a king, a person who should not be refused, and to whose invitation no one should prefer his farm tasks or business. Jesus really meant God’s invitation to Israel, which rejected God’s initiative and persecuted His prophets, for which reason the invitation was redirected to the Gentiles.

To go back to the wedding of the wife’s cousin’s son, had we come without the prescribed apparel, we would have stood out against everybody else — the ladies in red, the gentlemen in gray — and our hosts would surely be disappointed with us for having disregarded the dress code.

To St. Augustine, the wedding garment mentioned in the parable is charity. One cannot enter into the presence of God and participate in the heavenly banquet without love — both of God and neighbor.

Supposing there was enmity between us and our hosts, their act of inviting us to their son’s wedding would mean an attempt to make peace, but our hurt could be such that we might refuse, and the antipathy between us would grow.

Our skipping of the earthly banquet for this reason would mean our refusal to join the heavenly, to our eternal loss.

But if we decided to go to the relative’s wedding, we should wear the right garment — not so much the red gown and grey suit, as the garment of forgiveness.

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TAGS: banquet, formal dress, Gospel, gown, wedding

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