Today’s first reading from Judges 11 may be hard for us to understand, and even harder for us to accept. Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord. If the Lord gave him victory in battle, Jephthah promises to give as a burnt offering to the Lord whoever came out of the door to his house first after returning from battle. That turned out to be his only daughter. So what happens? Find out by reading today’s first reading.
In the Gospel reading from Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a king who gives a wedding feast for his son. When the servants went out to summon the invited guests, they refused to come. Some even beat and killed the servants. So the king has servants go out and invite people off the street. Everyone is invited. But someone comes in not dressed in a wedding garment. So the king has him thrown out into the darkness, “where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
The story is first about how the Jews are the first invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. But they refuse; indeed, they beat and kill the messengers. Then the story becomes about how we are all invited to the feast. But if we keep our dirty old clothes on, e.g., refuse to change into the wedding garment, it will not end well for us. This isn’t, of course, about clothing. It is about “putting on Christ” as St. Paul would say. That’s why the Church teaches that we cannot receive the Eucharist if we are in mortal sin. We must be “properly dressed” at the banquet.
Father, we thank you for the invitation to the wedding feast! Help us to remember that we must do away with the old and put on the new. Help us to be “dressed properly” to enter into the Kingdom. Amen.