Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Lord is My Trust

By Beth DeCristofaro

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. “If you deliver the Ammonites into my power,” he said, “whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the LORD. I shall offer him up as a burnt offering.” …  At the end of the two months (Jephthah’s daughter) returned to her father, who did to her as he had vowed. (Judges 11:30-31, 39A)

Blessed the man who makes the LORD his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood. Sacrifice and offering you do not want; you opened my ears. Holocaust and sin-offering you do not request Psalm 40:5, 7)

But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’  But he was reduced to silence.  Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14)

"High and Holy God, give me this day a word of truth to silence the lies that would devour my soul and kind encouragements to strengthen me when I fall.  Gracious One, I come quietly to your door needing to receive from your hands the nourishment that gives life.    Amen and Amen."  (St. Bernard,

Two disturbing stories are found in today’s readings.  The first is an infuriating and tragic tale of a warrior whose trust in God was shaky.  How many of us today still bargain with God?  “If you make me well, God, I’ll say a rosary every day for a year,” for example.  Jephthah went further, however, offering a human sacrifice, a ritual prevalent in his day among pagans.  This prideful bargain resulted in the death of his only daughter.  God wants freely given reverent compliance not burnt offerings.

In the case of the wedding guest who did not have the correct garment, Jesus was telling the tale of a person who was not willing to put on the new cloth of life in Christ such as we receive in Baptism.  This man hoped to attend the feast without truly repenting, changing heart and mind and living life as a faith filled witness.  But Jesus knows where our hearts are fixed.  He issues us the invitation and offers us the garments of his Word for our taking. 

Whether the tale of Jephthah’s martyred daughter is true or not, it became a tradition that Israelite women mourned her in a four-day ceremony.  Today, perhaps, she stands as a witness to all women and vulnerable people who victimized in violence.  What are my “blind” spots in which I choose idols, falsehood or lack of trust?  Ask Jesus to turn my weaknesses into entryways to reliance on the strength and graces of God.   

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