Updated: May 11
Have you heard of The Laundry Guy?
It’s a new TV show staring Patrick Richardson, a self-proclaimed “laundry evangelist.”
Richardson doesn’t preach the Gospel, but he does help people discover meaning in their lives.
He does this by listening to stories behind the pieces of old clothing that people bring to him to restore…
from wedding dresses to baby blankets,
from army uniforms to letter jackets.
In the second episode, he informs the audience
that his grandmother taught him to have respect for laundry.
“When you do laundry,” she said,
“you do it because you love someone
and you want to take care of them.”
Laundry seldom receives accolades.
Yet, attending to laundry reminds us
that garments do more than clothe the skin,
they also warm the heart.
Consider this example.
Years ago, a parishioner of mine related that she and her husband
had been married more than fifty years.
When her husband died, her days were full of sorrow.
At night, the only way she could fall asleep
was to go to the closet in the bedroom,
wrap herself in her husband’s bath robe
and go back to bed.
Yes, garments do more than clothe the body.
They heal the soul.
On Easter morning, Peter and John
discover two pieces of cloth
left behind in the empty tomb:
the burial shroud
and the cloth that covered the Lord’s head.
Have you ever noticed all the laundry
lying scattered throughout the gospels?
The swaddling clothes in which Mary wrapped the newborn Messiah.
The towel that Christ used to dry the feet of his disciples.
The tunic ripped off a young man fleeing the soldiers on the night of Jesus’ arrest. The cloak thrown across Jesus’ lacerated back following the scourging.
The veil that Veronica used to wipe his face on the way to Golgotha.
The seamless garment…the curtain in the Temple…the shroud…the sudarium.
Why all references to woven cloth?
Because love longs for something to touch.
Consider the father of the prodigal son.
When he catches sight of his boy,
he runs toward him and yells,
“Quick, bring a ring for his finger, shoes for his feet
and the finest robe in the closet!’
Instead of dressing down the kid,
the father dresses him up!
Which begs the question,
How has the Father clothed you?
When you played football back in high school,
was the jersey that you wore
a reminder of the heavenly Father’s pride in you?
On the day of your quinceañera,
was not the dress you wore a reflection
of God’s bright and beautiful love?
Recall the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“I rejoice greatly in the LORD,
for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness!”
Is this righteousness reflected in the way that you dress for work,
be it a fire-fighter’s gear, a nurse’s uniform,
a pair of chaps or a roughneck’s safety harness?
Friends, Christ left two pieces of cloth in the empty tomb.
Today, we refer to them as sacred relics:
the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.
Yet, for all who are clothed in the grace of baptism,
these items are, first and foremost, hand-me-downs.
Laundry stained with the blood of an older brother.
Garments to be cherished as none other.
Christ did not leave the Empty Tomb empty.
Rather, He left us standing open-mouthed at the mouth of an open tomb,
gaping at clothes left behind,
garments for the journey
and vesture for a glory yet to come!