Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever. I will talk a little bit about taking off our robe, our mourning and misery and putting on the splendor and glory of God.

I grew up in the era of grunge. I do not know if you guys remember that era. It was in the 90s when grunge was in style. When I went to high school, I always wore a flannel shirt and sporty jeans. That was my high school attire. I grew up in this era where I associate dressing as grunge with looking dirty and dishevelled. My mother did not want me to wear those clothes to church on Sunday during mass. I always had this attitude of ‘Well, God will love me however I dress.’ It should not matter how I dress on Sundays. So, I was stuck in this era of not dressing well according to my dignity. The grunge era saw ourselves as grungy people, as people that were not good. We prided ourselves on friends as just the opposite people who are not so good. I grew up with that mentality of a bad dresser. If I look back at that time of what I wore and the reason I wore it, I wore those clothes because I did not have a good self-identity. I did not see myself as a beautiful child of God. I saw myself as ugly and unworthy.

We hear the very opposite today. It says Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery. The prophet is saying, “Take off those clothes that are mourning and misery. That whole grunge era, get rid of that.” I am starting to see that flannel shirts are back in style with the young kids. Wow, they came back pretty soon. 

This idea of really taking off all of that clothing or attire would associate us with shame. The prophet is telling us, “Take off those clothes that are shameful.” The clothes that make you think that you are less than God. He says, “Put on the splendor and the glory from God forever.” So, we are supposed to put on these splendor and glory clothes in place of that. He goes on to say, wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head a mitre. So, all of us are priests, prophets, and kings as we come here together today. That displays the glory of the eternal name. 

I want to talk about the reality of dress, and I am not blaming or judging here. So, if you are not dressed in all your glory today, you are still loved by God. There is something about dressing up that helps us realize our identity. There is truly something about wearing our Sunday best when we come to mass that is in line with what scripture tells us – that we are to be clothed in glory. This still takes me a while as a priest to get a hold of.

I remember my first assignment at St. Barnabas in Northfield, and I struggled with spending money on clothes or anything like that, so I never wore a belt. All I wore was my clerics without a belt, and I had one of my daily mass goers come up to me and say, “Father, you need to wear a belt.” I said, “Why? My pants stay up fine on their own.” And she said, “No, a belt is a thing you touch. You need to wear a belt.” So, from that moment on, I have always worn a belt.

A couple of weeks ago, priests always had everything black, so I had a black jacket that I wear, and it was starting to tear apart in the sleeves underneath. I must look good when I go to the cemeteries and funerals and weddings and things like that. I was mentioning it to a friend. I said, “I have to get a new sports coat. Mine is tearing off at the sleeves, and the buttons are falling off. I would never have gotten a new sports coat.” He said, “I am taking you to get a new sports coat. You need to look like a good priest.” So, he took me, and I got a new sports coat.

I think we tend not to dress in the splendor of the Glory of God. That is why priests wear albs and chasubles. Today, our servers are dressed up in their cassocks and surplices to look at the part. There is something to be said about beautifully for Sunday mass. So, I would encourage you, and I can say this with humility which takes a lot for me, but I would encourage you to spend that on yourself. Treat yourself to some good clothes, beautiful clothes, to wear on Sunday so you can truly live in this reality. The way that we dress affects the way that we feel inside. If we dressed in the way I was dressing in the grunge era, I had low self-esteem, and the dressing reflected that. Then, as I learned to dress up as a priest, I remember the first time I put on an alb; I looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow! I look holy.” There is something about that. It is not only an external thing, but it reflects the internal.

This season of Advent, we are invited to put off mourning and misery. Please think about that in your life. Has there been a lot of mourning in your life? Maybe as we approach Christmas, you are missing somebody, and this side of you is broken-hearted. Or maybe there is just misery in your life. Life is complicated, and perhaps you struggle with anxiety and depression or anything like that. We are getting this invitation to put that off and to say, “I am no longer going to carry it around.” Instead, put on the splendor of the Glory of God, wrap ourselves in His glory, and dress ultimately as children of God.

We come here today to be with Our Lord, the King of Kings, the Prince of Princes. We are in His presence and realize that we are ultimately called to be in that splendor of glory to live truly as children of the light. Put away all darkness, put away grunge and live ultimately in this wonderful splendor of the Glory of God.