Could you imagine wearing jeans and t-shirt to a job interview, or to meet the President or even the Pope? The reality is most of us shudder at the thought of wearing such casual clothing to events that define our lives. Yet, when it comes to our Sunday best dress, it’s a completely different story. These days, when we head to Mass on Sunday, what fills the pews in most churches are jeans, shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, and even sweatpants. Yet, what more important person do we meet in the Mass than Jesus Christ Himself? The “Sunday best dress” is a concept that many people believe is a bygone tradition of an older culture – a tradition that is outdated and unnecessary in today’s world. However, dressing our best for our Lord and King is perhaps more relevant than ever in a culture that puts such emphasis on clothing as a form of identity and self-expression.
Jesus Doesn’t Care How I Look
It’s an argument many people make, and to a certain extent there is truth to this. After all, Scripture reminds us of this:
Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Furthermore, receiving the Blessed Sacrament is so essential to our lives that what we wear pales in comparison.
Yet, how we dress matters in a particular way because it is a reflection of what’s on the inside – what’s in our hearts. It’s a form of self-expression – a reflection of our beliefs. If we truly believe that we were going to church to meet and receive Christ the King, the Son of God, then wearing sweatpants is not only disrespectful, but shameful.
Put Effort In The Small Things
Our Lord may not care how we look when it comes to getting to Mass. However, He does care what is in our hearts and the importance we place on Mass. Dressing nice won’t make you a better Christian or more holy. In fact, if clothing becomes such a focus point that it steals away from our true focal point – Jesus Christ – then obviously it becomes hypocrisy. Furthermore, we shouldn’t judge too harshly the person who does go to Mass in inappropriate attire, as we don’t know the circumstances of their dress.
For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? (James 2:2-4)
However, choosing not to care about dress can be just as hypocritical and even more dangerous to living a holy and spiritual life.
To roll out of bed and throw on a pair of sweatpants or jeans indicates that Mass is just an afterthought at worse or an inconvenient obligation at best. However, Jesus Christ needs to be the center of our lives.
Dressing our Sunday best may be a small thing, but putting effort in the small things builds our strength for putting effort in the difficult times. Virtue isn’t just our inward appearance, but our outward appearance as well. Dressing in anything less than our Sunday best may not be a sin, but it reflects an inward appearance that doesn’t truly believe that we are about to meet Christ the King. At Mass, Jesus is truly and physically present on the altar. If we were to shudder at the thought of being caught in jeans in front of the Pope, how shameful to be caught wearing anything less than our best in front of Christ the King?