Saturday, March 28, 2015

Scandal in the Sanctuary

Its the weekend again, which means Mass. I find myself increasingly anxious about not having anything "nice" to wear. Things don't fit like they used to or they've been in my closet so long, they've gone out of style! People have told me to spend a few bucks to get an outfit at the thrift store, but I usually can't even find regular clothes there, let alone dressy digs (Its hard to be a tall girl). And even if I did find something, am I going to wear the same thing every Sunday? That's almost worse than showing up in jeans & a hoody... or "street clothes" as church people like to say. Its not that I don't have the funds to buy a new outfit, or several new outfits. Honestly, I just feel my money is better spent elsewhere.

I got to thinking... is it really me who has a problem with this? No. I would prefer going to church in my street clothes for a myriad of reasons. I'll be more comfortable. I won't have to go home & change. If I go anywhere before or after church, no one will give me the evil eye like I'm gonna start handing out tracts or something. "Nice clothes" inevitably create division. If I'm an average joe on the street, I would be less inclined to feel like I could stroll into a church service, plop down next to a suit & know I'm welcome. In fact, I'd steer clear of such a place because I know those people will look down on me.

I wonder how many others there are who WANT to go to church, to Mass, but avoid it because they don't want to put themselves through an emotional gauntlet? "Oh", I've been told, "you're just being selfish. Its not about you, its about God. Don't you want to give God the best you have? You're dishonoring Him by not appearing before Him like a child of the King that you are?!" Hmm. God sees all of me everyday, whether I'm wearing clothes or not. Am I really dishonoring God by not dressing up? Is it really the outward appearance He cares about or the heart? I think we know the answer. So when in Christianity did we begin to require dressing to the nines for church?

It seems that dressing up wasn't actually a common practice until the Victorian era- the mid 19th century. Before then, only the rich wore nice clothes because they were the only ones who could afford them. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution brought more prosperity, it also brought the poor "up" & they wanted to flaunt it. Dressing up started being equated with being a respectable person & if you didn't have the right clothes, well, poor you. Pun intended.

This was actually one of the sticking points for me when I became a Catholic. It still is. There are those who believe people like me are a disgrace to the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Uh, hello? Jesus ate with sinners, tax collectors, even poor people... How is my showing up at Mass in street clothes going to offend Him? Perhaps by offending others, "causing scandal" as Catholics say, I'm in fact truly offending God? Then again, didn't Jesus seem to cause scandal every other moment when He walked this earth? Are street clothes really synonymous with irreverence? Why is it so shocking to see something so everyday, so commonplace enter the sanctuary? Isn't that what Jesus died & rose for?!

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