A Garment Meant to be Worn Everyday (Fri. Oct. 15)

The word of the day is “new.”  Is baptism just a ceremony, a way of welcoming newborns into the family?  We make it an empty ritual when we do not realize that it requires a change in the way we live.  In today’s reading of Ephesians 4:17-25, Paul warns the Ephesians about going back to their way of life before their baptism.  Using the metaphor of clothing, the Apostle urges them to put off the “old man” and put on the “new man.”

This image combines three trains of thought. The first is that Christ became the “New Adam,” the Head of a new kind of humanity by His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:45; Romans 5:12-13).  The second is that the faithful are given a share in the “New Creation” of the New Adam (2 Cor. 5:17) by dying and rising with Christ in their baptism (Romans 6:4).  The third is that baptism gives the baptized a new “garment of salvation” to wear throughout one’s life.

A New Garment to Wear Through Life

In our reading, Paul emphasizes the third of these themes.  He stresses that the baptism of the faithful has implications for the way they live in this world.  Leaving the “old” conduct behind, they are to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

The garment of the “new man” is fresh and clean (Strong’s #2537) because God has fashioned it in “righteousness and holiness” (vs. 24).  In contrast, Paul says that the “old man” “grows corrupt” (vs. 22).  It is like fruit that is infected with molds and gets spoiled.  In the same way, the passions deceitfully contaminate the old self, and it decays and eventually dies.

Put Off the Worn-out Way of Thinking and Put on Christ

The apostle charges his flock to think and act as the new self they became when baptized (Romans 6:4).  In all their thoughts, words, and deeds, the baptized who have “put on Christ” are to wear their new garment.  They should “no longer walk in the futility of their minds” (vs. 17).  The reasoning of the “old man” is deceived, and the passions lead the old self into sin and futility (See Strong’s #539, 32).  The faithful should put this worn-out way of thinking behind them and let the Spirit renew their “mind” (vs. 23).  Then their understanding, as well as their actions, will be as fresh and bright (Strong’s #2537, 125) as their baptismal robe.

For Reflection

Here is how St. Chrysostom applies this reading to his hearers in his day: “Moral.  Our part then is, never to put off the garment of righteousness, which also the Prophet calls, ‘the garment of salvation’ (Isaiah 61:10.), that so we may be made like unto God.  For He indeed hath put on righteousness.  This garment let us put on.  Now the word, ‘put on,” plainly declares nothing else, than that we should never at all put it off” (NfPf1:13, 274).

According to Paul and St. John Chrysostom, we have the choice of wearing the garment of the “old man” or putting on and wearing the fresh clothes of the “new man.”  Is it possible to make a compromise with the way of the world and to wear both outfits?  Our reading suggests that the old clothing would soil the new.  If so, then each day, we should diligently put off and leave behind the ways of the “old self.”  Then we should joyfully don the manner of life of the “new.”

Leave a Reply