Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Thursday in the twentieth week of the Ordinary Time1

Thursday of the 20 OT1

 

Readings: Judg 11:29-39a; Mt 22:1-14.

1/ First Reading: RSV Judges 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the LORD's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering." 32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand. 33 And he smote them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abelkeramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel. 34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow." 36 And she said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites." 37 And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions." 38 And he said, "Go." And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. 39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel.

2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, `Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.' 5 But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' 10 And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; 12 and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."


I. THEME: Be faithful to keep what we promised.

            Today people try to find all possible reasons so they don’t have to keep what they swore; for examples, because they don’t know the future, the difficult situation they are in, the others or their family. The faithful are the ones who keep what they swore because once “a word comes from one’s mouth, even four horses can’t catch it.” To keep what we swore, we need to have heroic virtues to overcome all obstacles that prevent us to be faithful with our oath.

            Today readings show two kinds of people: those who are loyal to their promise and those who are not. In the first reading, the Book of Judges reported Jephthah’s fidelity and courage; he dared to kill his only child to fulfill what he promised with God. In the Gospel, Jesus told a parable to illustrate people’s infidelity with God. In the parable, the king was angry because many guests, who accepted his invitation to attend his son’s marriage feast, didn’t come when the feast is ready. He sent his servants out to destroy all of them and to come to all roads to invite people to his son’s marriage feast.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Jephthah kept what he promised to God.

  

1.1/ Jephthah’s strange promise to God: He is the leader of the Israelites and on the way to fight with the Ammonites. He promised to God, “If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand,then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering."So, “Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the Lord gave them into his hand. And he smote them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abelkeramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.”

  

1.2/ Jephthah killed his daughter to fulfill his vow with God.

            (1) Jephthah didn’t foresee what he promised: When “Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow."”

            God wants to see the faith of Jephthah. It is so easy to sacrifice the other who has no relation with him; but it is very difficult when he had to sacrifice his daughter, the only child he has. God didn’t command Jephthah to make a vow; but once he freely made a vow to God, he must keep it at all costs.

            (2) The heroic virtue of Jephthah’s daughter: This is her father’s vow, not hers. She could refuse, by not co-operating with her father to execute the vow; but she reveres God, so she courageously said to her father, “My father, if you have opened your mouth to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the Lord has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites."

                  She only made a request to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions."Her father granted her request, “He sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains. And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man.”

            Her heroic act becomes the exemplar for the Israelites, so every year they spend this day to memorize her; and it becomes a custom in Israel.

2/ Gospel: The heavenly banquet

2.1/ God prepared a heavenly banquet for people: Same thought as the first reading, Jesus wanted to tell the Jews that God gives them a priviledge to listen to the Gospel first; but because of their hardness, the Gospel are preached to the Gentiles. To help them to understand this point, Jesus chose to tell them a parable as follows: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those invited: "Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast."’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.”

            According to Jewish tradition at that time, they have a habit of coming to all the guests’ house to invite them to a feast. The host shall announce to his guests the reason, place and hour of the banquet. The guests must tell the host if they are able to attend or not. When the host knew how many guests shall come, he shall prepare the plates for that amount; then send out his servants again to gather the guests to come to the banquet.

            Since those who were invited, refused to attend, so their priviledge were revoked. The king gave an order to invite all people to attend his banquet, even the passer-by, “'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.' The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.”

2.2/ The condition to attend the banquet: Many people have a reason to question that how can a passer-by have the wedding costume to wear as the king required? The king can counter with his argument that one ccould refuse to attend; but when one agreed to come, he must properly have the wedding costume. Moreover, there is only one who didn’t have the wedding costume. This means that whoever wants to enter the kingdom of heaven must meet the required conditions.

            The last words of the passage are a warning statement for those who insult God’s blessings and priviledges: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” If they don’t know how to properly use God’s grace, He shall take them away and give to those who know how to benefit from them.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We must carefully consider before we make a vow to God, both in the consecrated and the married life. God wants us to be loyal to what we vowed.

            - We shall certainly be confronted with difficulties and obstacles, but we must try to overcome them. God shall give us enough grace so we could fulfill our vow.

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