Parables and Riddles

First Reading: Judges 11:29-39A

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He passed through Gilead and Manasseh, and through Mizpah-Gilead as well, and from there he went on to the Ammonites. 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.” Jephthah then went on to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD delivered them into his power, so that he inflicted a severe defeat on them, from Aroer to the approach of Minnith (twenty cities in all) and as far as Abel-keramim. Thus were the Ammonites brought into subjection by the children of Israel. When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah, it was his daughter who came forth, playing the tambourines and dancing. She was an only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her. When he saw her, he rent his garments and said, “Alas, daughter, you have struck me down and brought calamity upon me. For I have made a vow to the LORD and I cannot retract.” She replied, “Father, you have made a vow to the LORD. Do with me as you have vowed, because the LORD has wrought vengeance for you on your enemies the Ammonites.” Then she said to her father, “Let me have this favor. Spare me for two months, that I may go off down the mountains to mourn my virginity with my companions.” “Go,” he replied, and sent her away for two months. So she departed with her companions and mourned her virginity on the mountains. At the end of the two months she returned to her father, who did to her as he had vowed.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 40:5, 7-8A, 8B-9, 10

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will. Blessed the man who makes the LORD his trust; who turns not to idolatry or to those who stray after falsehood. Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.” “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me. To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!” I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “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. 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?’ 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.”



I am scratching my head. I am befuddled. I am confused.
Wait, what?
Mizpah? Is that a place?
Ammonites? Is that a sea creature?
Israel customs? Oy.
Jesus spoke to them in parables. Boy, I’ll say.
For many are called, but few are chosen . . . to understand what is even going on.
I do not know about you, but I have never been able to just pick up the Bible, read a passage or two, and go:
“Yup, I totally get it. That’s the message.”
Brushes off shoulders, gets degrees in Theology, ancient Hebrew, and biblical Greek, high-fives an angel, and drops the mic.
Nope. Nada. No way. N to the O.
I sit. I stare. I scratch my head. I sigh. I question. I Google.
Most of the time, I do not know what is going on. What is the Lord trying to tell me? How is The Holy Spirit interceding here? What message am I supposed to understand?
WHAT IS GOING ON!? Pulls hair, throws pen, shakes fists into the air.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter to me.
I KNOW to the very core of my being of the power, strength, and eternity of God’s love for me. I KNOW Jesus saved my soul. I KNOW the Holy Spirit works through me. I do not have to understand every message, every parable, every riddle to know the truth of The Word.
Even though I will continue to scratch my head—I still read. I still open that Book. I still reach out to those who understand more than I do. I listen. I stay open to the messages. I look at the foot notes, I use the Google, I ask, I question, I reflect.
Those parables and riddles will sometimes remain a mystery to me. But the important part is that I am still open to the message within. His Word spans time. Forever. For everyone. I will be made to understand when it is the right time.
Even if I have no idea what timbrels are.

How are you staying open when parts of Catholicism or Scripture don’t make sense?

photo by Corynne Olivia

Samantha Aguinaldo-Wetterholm is a wife, mom, and soon-to-be-dentist currently living in San Francisco, California. You can find out more about her here.

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