Clothed in Love
piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together
in perfect harmony.
In tomorrow's Gospel reading Jesus tells a diconcerting parable about a wedding banquet. The invited guests refuse to come. The invitation is repeated and refused once more. Finally, the king who is the host sends out his servants saying, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet."
So far so good, but then the king sees someone at the feast not in proper wedding robes and tells the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I've spent more time on this passage than I might usually in that I was asked to write a sermon for this Sunday for The Episcopal Church's wesbite to be used by those who don't have a preacher this week. A lay person can read my sermon to fill in for a trained priest. So about six weeks ago I prayed and studied on this reading and then wrote a sermon and the passage has remained with me. I'll present my take tomorrow. For now, I offer the words of Augustine of Hippo, the fifth centruy giant of the Christian faith who wrote about this parable identifying the wedding robe as love:
Whatever can this wedding garment be, then? For an answer we must go to the Apostle, who says: The purpose of our command is to arouse the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith.peace,
There is your wedding garment. It is not love of just any kind. Many people of bad conscience appear to love one another, but you will not find in them the love that springs from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith. Only that kind of love is the wedding garment.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, says the Apostle, but have no love, I am nothing but a booming gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, if I have all knowledge and understand all mysteries, if I have faith strong enough to move mountains, but have no love, I am nothing.
In other words, even with all these gifts I am nothing without Christ. Does that mean that prophecy has no value and that knowledge of mysteries is worthless?
No, they are not worthless but I am, if I possess them but have no love. But can the lack of one good thing rob so many others of their value? Yes, without love my confession of the name of Christ even by shedding my blood or offering my body to be burnt will avail me nothing, for I may do this out of a desire for glory.
That such things can be endured for the sake of empty show without any real love for God the Apostle also declares. Listen to him: If I give away all I have to the poor, if I hand over my body to be burnt, but have no love, it will avail me nothing. So this is what the wedding garment is.
Examine yourselves to see whether you possess it. If you do, your place at the Lord's table is secure.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Labels: Gospel reading