Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – August 19, 2021
Reflection for the 20th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 8-19-21, Year
Readings: 1st Jgs 11:29-39a, Gospel Mt 22:1-14
Optional Memorial – St John Eudes – Priest
Theme: Faithful Commitment
A true test of character for any of us is whether we hold true to our promises to do what we said we were going to do. Whether it’s a vow of marriage and fidelity to our spouse, saying we will pray for someone who needs them, or following through on a favor for someone. If we do not fulfill what we said we would do, our character will be questioned. People will stop trusting us and our word will mean nothing. We will just be a “resounding gong or a clashing cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).
Jesus asks us to have a strength in character that is worthy of heaven. If we believe in Jesus, then we must follow His teachings with a committed resolve. We must follow through with faith and trust that Jesus can rely on. We cannot be wishy washy or vacillate between secular theological definitions of the day.
On the other hand, we must be careful with what we commit to or make a vow for. We must not be hasty and not spend time to discern this commitment or vow, especially when speaking to God. God takes our word seriously and expects us to follow through.
In our first reading today from Judges, we see evidence of making a hasty vow or promise to God. If our word is true, especially one made to God, we must follow through with it. A hasty promise or commitment can mean very difficult actions later if we are to be trusted to hold true to our word. Jephthah found that out when he promised God to offer as a sacrifice the first person who comes out of the doors of his house. He wasn’t expecting it to be his only child. The same can be said for Herod’s promise to the daughter of Herodias where he promised her whatever she might ask for (Mt 14:6-12) which was John the Baptist’s head on a platter, something he did not want to do.
When we make a vow or promise we should be careful that we can fulfill it. When an aspiring deacon makes the final promise to be a servant of the Lord, he does not do so lightly. He spends two years discerning that vocation knowing it is a promise to answer a call by God and all that entails.
Jesus talks about the character of people who aspire to get into heaven. He speaks of accepting an invitation to heaven with a promise to have faith, follow His teachings and live the life expected by God. If we do not take that invitation seriously and think we can just slide into heaven with a half-hearted attempt to live a life of faith, then we will be just like the man who did not wear a wedding dress and be tossed out into the darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Take heart though, that God gives us the opportunity to find that wedding dress when we repent and ask for forgiveness and change our ways. Through Confession and total repentance of the heart and a sincere commitment to change one’s life, we can be made worthy of God’s invitation to heaven. That is the beauty of God’s love for us, a love we need to share with each other.