Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday in Pentecost 8: The wedding garment

Opening Sentence
Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3


Collect of the Day
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 131, 132, 133

Lessons: Numbers 23:11-26Romans 8:1-11Matthew 22:1-14


All believers are familiar with the story of the wedding of the king's son and the banquet that followed it, and of how the Lord's table was thrown open to all comers. When everyone was seated the master of the house came in to see his guests, and among them he noticed one without a wedding garment. So he said to him, "My friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?"


Now what precisely does this mean? Let us try to find out what it is that some believers have, but which the wicked lack, for that will be what the wedding garment is.


Can it be one of the sacraments? Hardly, for these, as we know, are common to good and bad alike. Take baptism for example. It is true that no one comes to God except through baptism, but not every baptized person comes to him. We cannot take this sacrament as the wedding garment, then, for it is a robe worn not only by good people but also by wicked people. Perhaps, then, it is our altar that is meant, or at least what we receive from it. But we know that many who approach the altar eat and drink to their own damnation. Well, then, maybe it is fasting? The wicked can fast too. What about going to church? Some bad people also go to church.


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. 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 form a pure heart, a clear conscience,and a genuine faith. Only that kind of love is the wedding garment.


Augustine
Sermon 90


The Love of God