On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 63: Wearing The Right Clothes
“Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” (Matthew 22:12 RSV)
In Jesus’ Matthew 22 parable of the Great Wedding Feast, He uses an event common to all, a wedding feast, to say something about the Kingdom of God.
The king sends out an invitation for everyone to attend his son’s wedding feast. Those who outright refuse are destroyed. Then there are the rest. Anyone from the street may come, “…both good and bad” (Matthew 22:10 RSV). At the feast, the king visits his guests. It was custom, of course, to be appropriately dressed for a king’s feast. Even if one did not have the right clothes, the king could provide such when the invitation was sent out.
But here was a guest without proper wedding feast attire. “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” Without an answer, the guest is treated just like those who had rejected the invitation in the first place: “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness…” (Matthew 22:13 RSV).
Although the invitation into the Kingdom of God is open to all, it rests upon those invited to respond in an appropriate manner. Yes, the guest had been invited. But he showed disrespect to the king in not wearing appropriate clothes.
Those who seek to be faithful stewards in their lives ought to recognize that when we respond to God’s invitation, we do so with proper behavior. We do not buy our way into the Kingdom. But entering the Kingdom of God means much more than just showing up. Being created in God’s image and likeness means that we have special gifts granted to us by God – gifts that we use and grow in so that when God sees us, He recognizes us as guests who have properly responded to the invitation.
Our Orthodox life of stewardship is always a life in process. From the time of Baptism and Chrismation, we commit ourselves to grow into that image and likeness in which we were first created. To do so takes a decision of the will. It takes a disciplined life of prayer and participation in the Holy Mysteries of the Church. It takes constant self-examination that drives us to the Holy Mystery of Confession.
That white garment given to us at Holy Baptism is in actuality the symbolic wedding garment of the Feast that is the Kingdom of God. May we live up to it so that the King can see it, clearly, when visiting us at the Great Feast to come.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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