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There are some proverbs about clothing one not very complimentary ‘cuir sioda ar ghabhar agus is gabhar í gcónaí é – put silk on a goat and it is always a goat’ only to be countered by a much nicer one: Déanann cleiteacha deasa éananacha deasa ‘nice feathers make nice birds’ Yes, the externals are important but all those external factors which define and often bind us are nothing compared with being clothed in Christ on this Easter day.
Today, Easter Sunday, is about you and I being given Easter clothes because Christ is risen and we are clothed anew in Christ. With joy we proclaim in unison with the greetings of the early Christians this day: ‘Christ is risen, Alleluia’ and to which we respond: ‘He is risen indeed, alleluia.’
Today, we remember that on our Baptism day we were clothed in a white christening shawl and the words said to us were: ‘See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity’. So, once more, the outer clothes but reflect our inner dignity in Christ. In the words of Peter to Cornelius and his household today: ‘God does not have favourites and does not judge by appearances’. So Peter is telling us that if we believe in the risen Jesus we are already clothed as new people.
Twice the linen cloths which bound and defined Jesus in death are mentioned in the gospel. Both Peter and John saw the linen cloths lying on the ground … and also the cloth that had been over his head; ‘this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself’ These linen cloths, the burial garments, the trappings of death are put aside in a place by themselves, separated from the body. In the business language of today they are now, ‘surplus to requirement’
Jesus will not die again. So from this day we should not be bound by trappings of death and now we are invited to let go of those outward garments which define and sometimes bind us.
In John’s gospel, Jesus is already glorified on Calvary. Today is the day of our glorification, of our bring re-clothed in Christ. While it is always good to look our best, how important it is on this Easter day that I should look beyond the externals and see a brother or a sister clothed anew in Christ.