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Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Judges 11:29-39 & Mt. 22:1-14

Today’s first reading is one of the most shocking in all the Bible.
Jephthah, chosen by God to rescue the lsraelites from the attacks of the Ammonites, made a vow, the result of which was far beyond his expectation. Even though he was horrified at the thought he must sacrifice his own daughter, an only child, he went through with what he believed to be God's will for him.

The biblical story expresses no judgement on Jephthah's action, but elsewhere in the Bible human sacrifice is condemned (Lev. 18:21 and Deut. 12:31). There is something admirable in the docility which both Jephthah and his daughter carried out the vow, although they were mistaken in thinking that God required this death. And who can forget that Abraham believed that God wished him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, when all God wanted was a sincere expression of Abraham's willingness to do anything for God?

The marvel of our Christian revelation is that, what God did not require of Abraham nor Jephthah, He did require of Himself. He gave us His own Son, His only begotten, to death on the Cross for our salvation. That great act is so important that we celebrate it in every Mass. Jephthah in his later years no doubt looked back in great sadness upon the death of his daughter. We look back upon the death of Jesus with sorrow because He had to suffer and with joy because His death brought about our redemption. That is why the day on which he died is called Good Friday – it was good for us.

At all times let us realise that what we celebrate in each Mass is God's magnificent love for us. That realisation should add a special brightness to all our days and it should be a beacon to lead us through the bleakest days of our lives.

Another cause for celebration would be your only son's wedding. The guests are all wearing their best - all except for one fellow, who has shown up completely unkempt and bedraggled. How would you respond? Would you not feel upset, or even insulted? You might even want to do what the king in today's Gospel parable did: he had that disrespectful guest thrown out.

In Jesus' parable, the people who came to the wedding banquet were not the guests who had first been invited. Not only had some of them refused to come but they even murdered the servants who brought the invitation.

“Many are called, but few are chosen” Jesus said. His statement suggests that some who are invited to the banquet in Heaven will not be granted admission. Why not? Despite the very generous invitation they chose not to put on the clean "white robe" of Christ's righteousness, or because they have allowed their robe to become stained through repeated sin. This is why repentance and more specifically the Sacrament of Reconciliation is such a precious gift that God gives us. Absolved of our sins we are once more made as clean, and more worthy of the promises of Christ.

When we repent Jesus removes the chains of sin that hold us bound. How freeing this is! No longer enslaved to sin, we can experience true happiness and peace, and grow in love of God. Let us stay away from sin, then, and repent quickly when we do fall. Constantly clothed in that robe of Righteousness, let us be prepared for the wedding feast of His Son in Heaven and not be like the guest who was told to leave the heavenly banquet.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your love and mercy, which know no bounds. Thank You for inviting us to the wedding feast of Your Son in Heaven Whose sacrifice on the Cross gave us the possibility of being clean and whole. Encourage us to come to Your Son whenever we need to repent so that we can be cleansed and renewed.

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