Wed, 21 August 2019
(Jgs.11:29-39; Ps.40:5,7-10; Mt.22:1-14)
“You have made a vow to the Lord.
Do with me as you have vowed.”
As with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is blessed not so much for giving birth to Jesus – or consecrating herself to God as a virgin – as for hearing and doing the word of God, being the handmaiden of the Lord extraordinaire… so the Lord delights not in “sacrifice and oblation,” per se, but in “ears open to obedience.” In accepting the sacrifice of her fertility (the greatest sacrifice a woman could make, though it may be difficult to realize in these days of abortion and contraception), Jephthah’s daughter demonstrates the obedience required of all the redeemed.
“Happy the man who makes the Lord his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood,” David proclaims in our psalm today. “The spirit of the Lord” upon him, Jephthah defeats severely the Ammonites, a nation which practiced the sacrifice of their children to their god, Molech. The Lord thus shows disdain for them and their ways. Thus also it should be evident that Jephthah would not do in the spirit of the Lord that which is directly opposed to His will. The sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter is of her fertility – it is her virginity she mourns and not her death. And Jephthah maintains his vow by consecrating her wholly to God, knowing that his generation will cease, since he has no other sons and daughters to bear his name, and thus making a great sacrifice himself. If it were her life itself he offers God, he would be no better than those he destroyed and certainly no son of Abraham, who was taught the truth against such sacrifice so many years before.
This aside, we turn to our gospel. It is clear that Jesus is telling the chief priests and elders of the people that they do not have the obedience required of the redeemed. “In the written scroll it is prescribed” that all must do the will of God, but these who know the Scriptures so well, know nothing of them at all… and so the Word goes out to draw the whole world into the kingdom prepared by God. But to these, too, Jesus has a warning: “The invited are many, the elect are few.” If we are “not properly dressed for a wedding feast,” if we have not aligned our lives with the will of God, we too shall be thrown “out into the night” with the man who had to “wail and grind his teeth.” And this wailing shall not come as holy sacrifice unto the ears of God; it shall not demonstrate our obedience to Him, but rather be the inflicting of judgment upon our souls.
Let us be obedient to the will of God in all things, brothers and sisters. Let us hear His voice alone and follow where it leads.
O LORD, let us offer ourselves as a holocaust to you;
then we will be fit to enter your presence.
YHWH, how shall we give true worship to you and offer you the sacrifice you are due? Only complete obedience to your will shall bring us into your presence; it is our very lives you desire of us. For you know that only this will make us joyful – only union with you and your Son will fulfill the longing of our hearts.
To your wedding feast let us come, O LORD, and there let us remain, ever praising your glory with full voice, happy to be among those you have saved. And so, in purity let us come, single-hearted let us be, and we shall not be cast out into the night but live in your holy light.
Your Spirit you send upon those who call upon you, who devote themselves to your will. Let us fulfill our vows to you, LORD; let us turn from all idols and trust in you alone, and we shall be blessed forever in your House.