From Pauses for Pentecost
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self
with its practices and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Putting on our clothes for the day is an early morning ritual we all take part in. Usually there are a few factors that we take into account as we do this. What is the weather forecast for the day? Will it be hot, cold, or mild? Will the sun shine, or will it rain? What are the tasks I need to do during the day? Will I be going to work, relaxing at home, working in the garden, entertaining friends, or meeting important people? Usually the choice of what clothes to wear boils down to one main thing: Will I be dressed suitably or not?
Easter people put on a particular set of clothes each day. These clothes suit our new identity as Easter people. As people who have been raised with Christ, we are now part of the new creation that God is bringing about. Not only are there certain practices that we must get rid of, but also we are called to clothe ourselves in such a way that we reflect more visibly the image of our Creator. Again, this is not something that God will do for us. While the Holy Spirit will certainly help us, we will need to be intentional. After all, one critical step in our growing up is that transitional moment when we take responsibility for dressing ourselves.
Read again carefully Colossians 3:9-10. Take a long look at the clothes hanging up in God’s closet waiting for you to put on. Inspect each item of clothing, one-by-one. There is compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and, above all, love, which binds them all together. Think for a moment how these virtues are reflected in the gospel life of Jesus himself. Ask yourself what sort of actions and words would make these virtues more real in your life at home, in your workplace, and within your community.
Putting on our new clothes as Easter people does not happen quickly or easily. It involves daily decision, determination, discarding practices of the old self that are not okay, and getting suitably dressed every morning. It takes a lifetime, but, as Walter Burghardt, SJ, has written, the risen Christ now living in us makes possible a risen life, a human life above the human.
The next time you get dressed for the day, consciously put on one item of clothing from God’s closet. Ask for the help of the Holy Spirit in making this particular virtue more visible in your life. When you get undressed, reflect on how it went throughout the day.