The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 14:11-14)You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27)
In each of the Scripture passages above, St. Paul tells us to “clothe ourselves” in Christ. In Galatians 3:26, Paul begins by saying that we who were baptized were given a new life in Christ-clothed with him from the moment of our baptism. Through no effort of our own, by the virtue of the sacrament itself, we are made into a new creation.
But that is only the beginning. If we want our baptism to change us interiorly, we have a significant part to play. It’s up to us to put on the clothing of Christ each day-just as we physically dress ourselves each day. Fr. Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Being a believer means being clothed in Christ. . . . This is much more than wearing a cloak. . . . It refers to a total transformation that allows us to say with Paul: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me'” (Galatians 2:19-20).
When we freely choose to put on our spiritual clothes every day, good things begin to happen. The Holy Spirit produces change-change in our personalities, our priorities, and our prayer. We become, as Fr. Nouwen says, the “living Christ in the world.” What is alive in our hearts shines out from us.
Over and over again, Pope Benedict XVI has called us to evangelize. In one of his addresses at World Youth Day 2007, he challenged us to bring one person per year to Christ. Whenever he talks about evangelization, the Holy Father never fails to mention the need for interior faith, not just church membership. He loves to emphasize that it is the work of the Spirit within us that will make us-and our faith-attractive to the people we are trying to evangelize. So when we wake up every day, let’s be sure to reach into the closet of faith and clothe ourselves with Christ. Then let’s go out and be his witnesses, “modeling” his fine clothing to the world.
(Joe Difato is the publisher of The Word Among Us. Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt his introduction to the May 2008 issue of their devotional magazine.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. How would you describe what it means to “clothe yourself” in Christ? How well do you do this each day?
2. The article says that “If we want our baptism to change us interiorly, we have a significant part to play.” How would you describe this part we play?
3. The article goes on to say that “When we freely choose to put on our spiritual clothes every day, good things begin to happen. The Holy Spirit produces change-change in our personalities, our priorities, and our prayer.” How would you describe the changes the Holy Spirit has produced in you? What steps can you take to open yourself even more to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?
4. What do you think the Holy Father meant when he says that we have a “need for interior faith, not just church membership”? What role does your times of prayer play in the deepening of your interior faith? Share some examples.
5. The article ends with these words, “So when we wake up every day, let’s be sure to reach into the closet of faith and clothe ourselves with Christ. Then let’s go out and be his witnesses, “modeling” his fine clothing to the world.” Experiment with these suggestions and share the results at your next men’s meeting.