Homily Ė 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Today I would like to focus the homily on the second reading we heard. It is fitting that I focus on this because over the course of the next couple of weeks we will be having first communions. It is a joyous time for our parish as some of our members begin to receive the Eucharist and thus participate in what Vatican II calls the source and summit of Christian life. It is important also because for a number of years a lot of things have crept into the liturgy that do not belong there. Just this week the an important document was released concerning these grave abuses. As Catholics you have a right to the Liturgy that is set down by the Church. It is a grave abuse for a priest to take things into his own hands. You worship at the Church of Jesus Christ not the Church of Fr. Todd or Fr. So and so. But due to 30 Ė 40 years of abuses inflicted upon people they sometimes can be confused about what is right. They might have a sense that something is wrong and be uncomfortable with it. Or they might give in and think that the Liturgy is something that can be played around with, can be made cute, or entertaining. The truth is, every liturgical act and especially the Mass is an act of worship of the Jesus Christ the Lamb of God and our second reading gives us a clear indication of how this should be done.
The second reading tells us of the Vision of St. John of the Divine Liturgy in heaven. The angels and all creatures cry out. Worthy is the lamb who was slain. Who is this lamb that was slain. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. What is he worthy of? to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” A little further on it tells us: ďTo the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Our Liturgy on Earth should reflect these points. We come here to Worship Jesus Christ. The Mass is the highest act of Worship of Jesus that we can give. There is a reason when I hold up the Eucharist that I say ďThis IS the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper. You respond: Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed. The Eucharist is truly Jesus Christ. It truly is the Lamb who is slain. We are truly unworthy to receive him, yet he is willing to give himself to us. That should provoke a response from us of humility, fear of God and reverence unlike we give to anything else in our lives. The Eucharist is the Lamb of God. He is deserving of Glory, honor, blessing and riches forever and ever. That means yesterday, today and forever. That means every Mass should reflect this and everyone who participates in Mass should as well. To do anything less is to dishonor the Lamb who was slain to save us. It is to give him unfitting glory. It dishonors him. It makes us unfit to worship with those in heaven because we are unwilling to humble ourselves and give him is rightful praise. It is right to give him thanks and praise and it is right to give the very best to the Lord.
That brings me to the main topic I want to address today: our reverence and dress when we come to Mass. I have been writing in the bulletin about what is and is not appropriate dress in Mass. This isnít just Fr. Toddís opinion. This is based in the reality that our very best is the only thing fitting for our Lord. Attitudes have become casual toward Mass. When we become casual about what we wear to Mass we will become casual about that way we treat the Eucharist and that is Sacrilege. People donít have their Sunday Best any more. I myself was guilty of this when I wasnít serious about my faith. What we wear communicates a lot about us and our attitudes. It communicates how much we respect things or donít respect them. There is a reason why first communicants dress up for their first communion. It is a special day. It is no less special for anyone of us no matter how many communions we have received. We are all receiving Jesus Christ. He is what makes it special and he is the one deserving of our best. That is why it is never appropriate to wear casual clothes to Mass. I am not saying you have to be in a suit but you should be well dressed. Shorts are never appropriate. But Father it gets hot. Tell me about it. I am in three layers of polyester, with lights shining directly on me, standing for the vast majority of the mass and holding my arms up in prayer. People wonder why I am hot in the winter and use a handkerchief so often. I think you would be offended if I came out in shorts and a tee shirt to say Mass for you and you should be. I also think it is offensive to God and to our neighbors when we wear them to Mass. They are not considered our best. This would also include many of todayís styles that are immodest. I admit it is tough to shop for modest clothing now a days. Most of womenís clothing, especially young ladyís, is immodest. It puts her body on view and treats her like and object for menís viewing pleasure. It communicates that the primary value she has is as an object of sexual attraction. That is offensive to the dignity of her person as a child of God. If I had a biological daughter I would never let her wear something that is specifically designed to entice men to view her as an object. I am a Father however and I can not allow them to be victimized or to victimize themselves in Godís House. Half shirts or clothing that exposes the midriff is not appropriate for Church. Just like they do at the Vatican, I intend to coverings in the back of the Church. The alb is the gown of the baptized and it solves the problem of immodest clothing. I will ask you to cover up before you go to Mass. If you donít I will ask you to leave. I do not want you distracting people from worship while they look at you. The same goes for low cut shirts or plunging necklines. I stand above you when I hand out communion and look down. There are somethingís I donít want or need to see when I am praying the Mass. The same set of rules apply to men and muscle shirts, tank tops or half shirts. Okay you might lift weights and are proud of your body. Donít come to Mass to show off your body. You can do that everywhere else but here. Come to Mass for the only body that counts: The Body of Christ. That is the only body that should command our attention in Mass. If you try to compete for attention with our God then you have some serious issues and you need to have them somewhere else.
If dressing appropriately presents challenges to you financially the come see me. I will be glad to help you get an appropriate Sunday outfit. If I have to learn how to sew I will. Parents donít be afraid to challenge what your children want to wear to mass. It is the job of the Father and Mother to set rules and regulations to teach their children what is and isnít acceptable behavior in a civilized society. As a spiritual father I need to tell you these things because they are a problem. We have lost the healthy sense of shame we had years ago at showing up in Church dressed inappropriately and being irreverent in Church. The action is still shameful we just donít know it anymore. It is time we recover reverence. It is time we recover the sense of the sacred. It is time we recover our fear of God and give our very best to him rather than our leftovers.
The Lord takes dress seriously and so should we. In Matt: 22 a man who showed up at the Kings wedding dressed inappropriately was bound and cast in to the darkness. In Revelation the Divine Liturgy is called the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and that is what it is in our earthly liturgy as well. We should not show up to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb dressed poorly. We eat at the table of Kings. We need to give our best. We need to dress appropriately. If we donít then we can expect the same treatment as the man in Matthew. Ultimately the choices we make about our dress communicate a lot about ourselves and our attitudes. But whether we are embarrassed about it or not is not the fault of someone else if they point it out to us.. They did not dress you. That is a choice you make and you need to bear the consequences. If you dress shamefully then you should be ashamed. We are capable of giving this honor. We do it for humans all the time. Can we not do it for our God? Our Lord deserves our best. Worthy is the Lamb of glory and honor. How you choose to do that is up to you. The choice is yours. Choose well.

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11 Responses to “”

  1. Teresa Says:

    Well said Father!

  2. Roxana Says:

    It blows me away that you continue to “challenge” the folks (teach the Truth). Well done.

  3. Paul Says:

    Kudos Padre, kudos!

  4. Greg Bourke Says:

    I look forward to updates on how the parish handled this challenge. I am gobsmacked and the idealism shown here. I like it…

  5. J Says:

    I wish this Homily would be published in every weekly bulletin in the US. At my parish, the mass has become so infected with distracting clothing and disrespect that I must start going to an earlier one.

  6. Mary-Kathryn Says:

    Father,

    For those who have limited incomes, thrift shops have very cheap clothing for families. Also, how about getting families to go through their closets and donate last years Christmas and Easter outfits? Then those who are without, can come and choose.

    You rock Father!

  7. Theosis Says:

    Thanks be to God for your homily, Fr. Todd. May God be with you and your flock always.

  8. Ben Says:

    Bravissimo Father. I know that shorts, cut-offs, and bare-midriff clothing tear my heart in two when I am serving at the altar. For those who call your homily too rash, and I am sure there shall exist such people, you may be at least be certain that your words were true 500 years ago and are still true this very day. As an aspiring seminarian, you are an inspiration. I’d love to be able to talk with you more. I need all the formation advisement I can get. Pax Vobiscum, Pater!

  9. Jeanette Says:

    I really liked your homily. Being brought up the way I was, I would not wear anything that would be considered disrespectful.
    Thanks

  10. Karen Hall Says:

    Hey, Fr. Todd, you took MY rant! You can ask my husband if you don’t believe me. He’s heard it until he could recite it. Maybe it’s because I was raised as a protestant in the south — we had “Sunday” clothes and we did not wear them the rest of the week. I go nuts at how Catholics dress for Mass. Especially the teenagers. You can imagine what the teenagers in L.A. look like — belly shirts and jeans with holes in them. I want to go up to them and say, “If someone had told you that Jesus was going to be at Mass today, is that how you would have dressed?” And if they say “no”, I’ll tell them that, evidently, no one has explained Mass to them. Unfortunately, though, my friends say they’d probably say “yes”. It’s not just the clothes, though. It’s attitude in general. One Sunday there was a teenaged girl from confirmation class sitting in front of me, in her torn jeans and sweat jacket, who was spitting on her contact lens during the consecration. But every priest I’ve ever mentioned this to says that I should just be glad the teenagers are there.

  11. Karen Hall Says:

    Hey, Fr. Todd, you took MY rant! You can ask my husband if you don’t believe me. He’s heard it until he could recite it. Maybe it’s because I was raised as a protestant in the south — we had “Sunday” clothes and we did not wear them the rest of the week. I go nuts at how Catholics dress for Mass. Especially the teenagers. You can imagine what the teenagers in L.A. look like — belly shirts and jeans with holes in them. I want to go up to them and say, “If someone had told you that Jesus was going to be at Mass today, is that how you would have dressed?” And if they say “no”, I’ll tell them that, evidently, no one has explained Mass to them. Unfortunately, though, my friends say they’d probably say “yes”. It’s not just the clothes, though. It’s attitude in general. One Sunday there was a teenaged girl from confirmation class sitting in front of me, in her torn jeans and sweat jacket, who was spitting on her contact lens during the consecration. But every priest I’ve ever mentioned this to says that I should just be glad the teenagers are there.

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