There is a parable in the bible that I love and hate and that is the parable of the Wedding Feast from Matthew 22:1-14. The reason that I love it, is the message that it conveys about salvation and our choice in it. The reason that I hate it, priests use it as an opportunity to talk about “dress code” in their Church.
Last Sunday we heard this gospel and as I sat there in my chair listening to the homily, praying that this would be a different one that would stick to the readings of the day, I was sadly disappointed again. The priest started off well but went right into “dress code.” I don’t mind if a priest wants to push his personal agenda on his congregation but, do it afterwards or at another time, don’t use the gospel to relay a personal message or a pet peeve that you have otherwise the message of the gospel gets lost in translation.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned so far in my diaconate journey it is not to push a personal agenda. We haven’t formally begun to study homiletics yet but with the little bit that we are being introduced to, we have been instructed on what will make or break a good homily or reflection.
One of the previous priests from my last parish assumed just because I was a small business owner, I could afford to buy a suit or come dressed to Church in a suit. Most people that know me know that I dress simple. I like jeans and t-shirts and cowboy boots. For Mass though, I have a brand new pair of Wranglers that are pressed and used only for Mass and I were a nice western style button up shirt, shined cowboy boots but no tie. In the summer, it’s more of a clean pair of jeans or Dockers and a Hawaiian style shirt. I dress what I would consider, appropriately.
Let’s be honest, do you really think that if Jesus Christ came down at that moment that he would kick me out of the Church because I could “afford” to dress up dressier? Do you think he’d toss everyone out that was dressed in jeans and t-shirts? I seriously don’t think that he would. Now is that to say that I’ve never worn a suit to Church? Of course I have but, it was during a time that I felt was appropriate for the attire, a special Mass, a special event in Church, etc… but I would never push that on anyone. I think Jesus is more concerned about people coming to Mass than he is with what they are wearing.
This is part of the “poor catechizing” that I talk about, especially in the area where I live. I’m not sure how it is where you live but where I’m from, in my opinion, our local area has been poorly catechized for a few decades in most, if not all of the parishes here. As priest, deacons and soon to be deacons, we have a responsibility not only to our parish and our diocese but primarily to God that we will go out and profess His message and not ours. Save your pet peeves and personal agendas for another time or do as our Blessed Mother Mary did and hold them silently in your hearts and pray on them. Or you can continue to preach from the gospel of Father/Deacon (fill in the blank) and continue to wonder why parishioners are leaving your parish or the Catholic Church. Stick to the script and let God take care of the rest.