Daily Reflection
August 23rd, 2007

Brian Kokensparger

Arts & Sciences College
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The fall semester started yesterday for undergraduate students here at Creighton University, and as I prepare to teach my first class session, I cannot help but place today’s readings in an educational context.
Though it is difficult to look beyond the irony of Jephthah’s vow, the first reading has something to say to us about commitment. Jephthah was faced with the almost impossible task of defeating the Ammonites. In the face of his enemy, he vowed that the first person to greet him would be offered as a burnt offering to the LORD. His daughter, upon hearing the vow that he had made, committed herself to honoring it. Most of us are familiar with the common phrase: “Ham and eggs: The chicken is involved, the pig is committed.” In that same light, Jephthah was involved in the making and the carrying out of the vow, his daughter was committed to keeping the vow.

My students come to class with various levels of commitment to the task of education. Some are involved (offering resources and time), others are committed (offering their whole selves to the process). St. Ignatius asked his brothers and sisters to commit themselves to the educational process, both as teachers and as students. I believe mere involvement did not cut it with St. Ignatius.

The first reading asks us all to reflect on our own vocations, whatever they may be. Are we involved in our vocations, or are we committed to them?

In the Gospel reading, the king is frustrated because he made elaborate preparations for the celebration of his son’s wedding, only to have little or no interest from the invited guests. When I attend conferences, I hear time and time again about instructors who get frustrated when they make elaborate preparations for class sessions, and only half of the students show up, or when those that do show up are not fully engaged in the classroom activity.

These instructors want to share the joy of knowledge, the things that they have learned and that those who wrote the textbooks know and would like to share. They have high hopes that the students who come to the class session are ready to learn and are as excited about the subject as they are. Many are. Some are not.
So no wonder the king gets a bit miffed. The wedding feast sounds like the event of the year – perhaps the event of the decade. Who would not want to sit down amidst all of that finery, to take part in something so much bigger than any individual? Someone would have to be not in his or her right mind to refuse an invitation to such a lavish feast, or to wear anything but a wedding garment. Perhaps that was Jesus’ point. Perhaps he was talking with a group of people who were not “in their right minds.”

Apply this to the Kingdom of Heaven, and it’s more difficult yet to understand how an invited guest could turn down the invitation. And once there, how could anyone remain disengaged from the event that is taking place? Who could not get excited about the Kingdom of Heaven? I repeat: The Kingdom of Heaven! Life with Jesus! The communication of Angels and Saints!

Unlike the classroom, where only the “accepted” students in good standing are invited to partake in the “feast,” in the Kingdom of Heaven everyone is invited, the rich or poor, the accepted or rejected, the young and old . . .

All we are asked to do is to commit ourselves to accept the invitation, to bring our “right minds,” and to engage ourselves in each and every moment. It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, however . . .
“. . . many are invited, but few are chosen.”

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