10 the Lord said to Moses: Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Have them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10-11 NAB
I've been reading a lot about modesty lately. In reading those articles I often find articles also about 'dressing up' for Mass. In reading about that I've felt convicted a few times about wearing my blue jeans and t-shirts. I normally try to spiff up a little you know, a polo shirt or a button down shirt, Some slacks or khakis. That's my look really for Mass. I kept feeling though like I should be wearing a 'shirt and tie.' I quickly pushed that out of my mind, it's summer! It's 85+ out there, I already sweat enough as it is!
Then last night I felt the conviction again and talked to my wife about it. We both talked about the pros and cons, almost in a practical manner. I was raised in a Baptist church where blue jeans and t-shirts were common for weekend services and everyone always said "God is no respecter of persons, he doesn't look at your clothes.' You're right there. God doesn't look at my clothes, he looks at my heart. He judges my actions and their motives.
That brings me to this though... if I truly believe that Jesus Christ is physically present; body, soul and divinity; in the Eucharist... then how would I show that? If the President were coming to town and having a banquet, I'd dress up for that. If the bishop were coming to our parish, I'd be in my tux and knights regalia. Yet, Jesus Christ is there every weekend. He's not judging me based on my outside dress, but what are my motives? What are my actions? Am I showing Him how much I love Him? Am I treating Him with more respect and dignity than I would a visiting dignitary?
I still didn't want to wear my tie. In fact, I didn't even know where it was. I had 'halfheartedly' looked for it but had not found it. Then while I was washing clothes last night I noticed my button up dress shirt in a pile of dirty laundry. I grabbed it and just tossed it in with the others knowing I was going to need it for my scrutinies in a few weeks. I washed clothes, and dried them. Then while I was removing the clothes from the drier this morning to put it on my eyes locked on to something hanging behind the dryer on a pipe. There, clean and crisp, was my tie.
I get it ok? The shirt was right there. The tie was right there. All that was keeping me from putting it on ... was me. So today I showed up to Mass in a tie. Many people commented on my dress. My daughter even asked me, why are you dressed up? To which I responded, "I got invited to see Jesus this morning, so I dressed up for it." She said, "Can you tone it down a little? That's too fancy for Mass."
We got a lot of work to do. Starting right here in our own homes. Our kids need to see us treating Mass as if it is worth dressing up for, because it is. If our kids think that wearing a shirt and tie is too fancy for Mass? We've missed the mark somewhere. Yes, I know each persons best is different. If your best clothes are honestly a pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt, don't feel bad for wearing them. If you have a suit in the closet and you're wearing your ratty junk to Mass? Something is wrong in our heart when we act that way.
Dress to show how you believe, offer yourself as a living sacrifice at Mass. If you sweat? So be it. Uncomfortable collar? Offer it up. You're in the presence of the King of Kings.... it's time for us as Catholics to show the world what that means.