From the first reading of today’s Mass: “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.’” The focus of the reading is the story of a beloved daughter who left her family and finds herself in a prostitute and the prophet Jephthah promises God he will pray to change people lives when he encounters them. And from the Gospel: The King has prepared for the wedding feast but when he sends out his trusted servants to gather the guests they are killed. “Then the king said to his servants, ‘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. 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?”
These readings have a great deal of power because they speak so much to my mothering soul. As a mom with older children I look back on my mothering journey and my children and see so much of what is happening in the readings as things, I experienced as a mom. The Ammonites they can be seen as things that our children can become involved in that we, as mom, are called to try and guide them away from. You will see I didn’t say protect, but guide. For me to protect is not giving them tools they can use when they are gone from the home. Like Jephthah was a prophet so are we, as first teachers. We must give them the armor they will need to live in the world. And since no family is trouble/problem free we/I have experienced a child lost to dangerous things. I was/am Jephthah praying to God to about my child. I may not have prayed that I would make a burnt offering of whoever came through my door, but sending our child off to deal with the consequences surely felt as if my hubby and I were. What we got back was a child more aware of how to deal with the world. Our child came back a blessing. As for the family, we grew stronger.
As for the wedding feast and motherhood.
Many may look at our families and comment about our children. Let them. What they have to say is not based on any knowledge of us. They are the unworthy guests. Every family, ours included, is filled with the good and bad it is how we treat them that is the mark of a faith-filled family. The King sees a guest without the proper attire, what does he do: dresses him. Our children may sometimes be as unprepared as that guest. Finding themselves in situations they have never dealt with. Pressures they do not know how to handle. Like the daughter in the first reading and the guests killed, they can be just as lost.
It is our job to show them compassion. There will always be that one child, that one that is always into something, that needs more, that one child that if we were to look at them with the eyes of the world, we would never see clearly. That child is the daughter/the inappropriately clothed wedding guest. That child will be bewildered, confused, in need of our help. That child and all our children should be robed in the clothes of our Lord: Compassion. For without compassion, there can be no passion. Passion that deep love for our children is reflected in God’s grace and mercy for us. Without that we could not do what we are called to do. Compassion is what helps our children become more than they think they are, and that too is part of our calling.
Divine Wisdom, fill our hearts today so that we can robe our children as you robe us, with compassion.