The Collect, or opening prayer, of today’s Mass doubles a theme already present in each Mass – something that the new translation of the Roman Missal has helped bring to light. Before offering the Lord’s Prayer together, the priest say, “At the Saviour’s command, and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say…”
Today, that audacity is highlighted in the Collect: “Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit we dare to call out Father…”
To dare or be daring has not a few interpretations. How many here have played ‘Truth or dare’ as youth, hoping that when it is their turn, that the dare is not to huge or the truth to embarrassing! We know that a dare can play on our fears, revealing our weaknesses.
Alternatively, we hold up those who are daring. Whose imagination hasn’t been caught by the likes of say, Indiana Jones, who daring not only helped him find lost treasures but defeat the Nazis, an evil cult and apparently even aliens! Daring gives us boldness to go beyond our normal abilities.
Whether they reveal weakness or incite greatness, those who dare can not do so lightly.
For this reason – and in the context of the Bread of Life discourse that we are hearing in the Gospels – it seems appropriate to touch on a particularly sensitive topic in the practice of our faith: how we dress.
We dare to call God our father not because we have a right to do so, but because of Jesus and the Baptism we have received by the Holy Spirit from Him. This outrageous claim can be made with confidence – but that doesn’t change the magnitude of what we are doing!
Isn’t there an equivalent enormity in the liturgy we celebrate at Mass? A few moments after daring to call God our father, we will dare to approach and receive His Son – not because of any right to do so, but rather because Jesus invites us: ‘take this all of you and eat of it . . . . do this in remembrance of me’.
How are we presenting ourselves as we come forward? Do the clothes we wear speak to the gravity of what we are doing – or do they reflect something less?
At communion it is always apparent when someone has dressed up. Whether it is in the simple elegance of nice slacks and shirt, a modest dress or the prepared finery of ties, vests and gowns, the seriousness of the wearer is apparent without a word ever being spoken.
In contrast, what does casual clothing convey? What is the wearer conveying when receiving the Lamb of God wearing jeans, shorts or a mini-skirt, tennis shoes or flip-flops, t-shirts, tanks tops or clothing that reveals more than it covers? One wonders if the wearer has thought about the message sent both to those around him or her, and what the Lord Himself – who knows the means and minds of all – thinks of what is worn.
I don’t dare judge the motivation of folks’ attire. I know that some folks come to Mass immediately after work. Others genuinely can’t afford dress clothing. This is, however, an invitation to examine what we can control: what am I conveying to our Lord at Mass in my presentation?
Jesus comes to us in all parts of our lives – at home, in the workplace, and day-to-day life – to call us to Himself. We are usually caught off-guard when Jesus comes to us, and often look back at our initial presentation with regret. Now, however, having been invited by Christ, we know the day, the time and even the place of our next encounter with Christ: every Sunday at church.
May we dare to call God our father and to receive His Son worthily, carefully attentive to how we present ourselves, inside and out.