21 June – Memorial for St. Aloysius Gonzaga, religious
St. Aloysius (1568-1591) was an Italian noble who grew up in a castle as the son of a compulsive gambler. He suffered from kidney disease, but considered it a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. At age 18 he signed away his legal claim to his family’s lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. He tended to plague victims in Rome in the outbreak of 1591, and died of the plague himself with the desire to see God.
– Patron Saint Index
2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-36
Sennacherib, King of the Assyrians, sent messengers to Hezekiah saying, ‘Tell this to Hezekiah king of Judah, “Do not let your God on whom you are relying deceive you, when he says: Jerusalem shall not fall into the power of the king of Assyria. You have learnt by now what the kings of Assyria have done to every country, putting them all under the ban. Are you likely to be spared?’
Hezekiah took the letter from the hands of the messenger and read it; he then went up to the Temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah said this prayer in the presence of the Lord, ‘O Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, enthroned on the cherubs, you alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth, you have made heaven and earth.
‘Give ear, Lord, and listen.
Open your eyes, Lord, and see.
Hear the words of Sennacherib
who has sent to insult the living God.
‘It is true, O Lord, that the kings of Assyria have exterminated all the nations, they have thrown their gods on the fire, for these were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, and hence they have destroyed them. But now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, I pray you, and let all the kingdoms of the earth know that you alone are God, the Lord.’
Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah. ‘The Lord, the God of Israel,’ he said, ‘says this, “I have heard the prayer you have addressed to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria.” Here is the oracle that the Lord has pronounced against him:
‘“She despises you, she scorns you,
the virgin, daughter of Zion;
she tosses her head behind you,
the daughter of Jerusalem.”
‘This, then, is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
‘“He will not enter this city,
he will let fly no arrow against it,
confront it with no shield,
throw up no earthwork against it.
By the road that he came on he will return;
he shall not enter this city. It is the Lord who speaks.
I will protect this city and save it
for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”’
That same night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Sennacherib struck camp and left; he returned home and stayed in Nineveh.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls in front of pigs, or they may trample them and then turn on you and tear you to pieces.
‘So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.
‘Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
“The road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious”
In the previous day’s gospel, Jesus gives us a framework for fraternal correction. While we do our best in reconciling with our brother or sister, today’s gospel tells us that what is holy must not be cast before dogs and that one should not cast pearls before swine.
Jesus also talks about the taking the narrow gate which leads to heaven, versus the wider gate which leads to perdition, or a state of eternal damnation.
In our daily lives, it is always easier to take the path of least resistance. Such a path is easier as one would not be required to stand up for one’s values. The moral question of whether one is right (or wrong) does not come into play… for choosing the wide gate means choosing something that is easy and politically expedient.
I have found myself in previous work environments where colleagues (and myself) had found ourselves agreeing with the bosses even though we felt the decisions were either wrong or morally questionable. Rather than defending what is right, we find that it is easier simply to agree. This happens also in our social relationships. Situations where we need to take the narrow gate may tend to be compromised because it is simply more difficult and challenging.
Let us pray to our God for moral courage and strength to do the right thing.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father, let us to be strong to make the right choice; to walk the path that is more difficult and to enter heaven through the narrow gate. Help us to understand what is required and to act in Your Will.
Thanksgiving – Thank You Father for showing us the path to Your eternal kingdom. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, who speaks to us in our spirit, guiding our choices and conscience along the way.