Take off your garment of your affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God; put on your head the diadem of the glory of the everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven. For God will evermore give you the name: “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory” (Baruch 5:1-4 NRSV).
What delight! What splendor! What excitement! The Messiah comes. “Take off your garment of your affliction.” “Put on forever the beauty of glory from God.” “Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God.”
So what, in less poetic language, are we to take off? What is “the beauty of glory”? What is the “robe of righteousness”? What is “the glory of the everlasting”? In other words, how do we come dressed to welcome the Messiah? These are questions to ponder deeply during the Season of Advent.
What we have to take off is everything that stands between us and God. What we have to put on is everything that draws us to God. The poet Dante Alighieri in his Commedia Divina shows that the spiritual journey is a stripping away of all that is shameful, insincere, idolatrous, and lifeless. It means putting on everything that makes us alive, to finally bow down before the throne of God and be crowned triumphant. The 2nd century bishop Irenaeus said that, “The glory of God is a human being, fully alive.” That, in the final analysis, is what we bring to the Christ child in the manger: “our selves, our souls and bodies.” That is all we have. That is all we can give. That, thanks be to God, is all that God requires.
Most wondrous God, whose blessed Son revealed His glory to the disciples on the mountain: Help us who are clothed in the garments of shame to cast these off and finally stand before You in Your glory, cleansed and stripped of all pretense; through the merits of the same Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.