Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the story of the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, who gathered a massive army and attacked the kingdom of Judah under king Hezekiah, and went on to besiege the city of Jerusalem. King Sennacherib boasted of his mighty army and his great accomplishments, in how he has conquered various nations and peoples with his army, and how their idols had not done anything to help them against the power of Sennacherib’s army.
And in that moment of great pride, king Sennacherib boasted against God, by comparing Him to the other idols of the conquered nations, that not even the Lord YHVH, the God of Judah and Hezekiah would be able to save Jerusalem and Judah against his mighty power. But Sennacherib failed to realise that he was going up against the Lord God, Creator of the universe and Master of all things.
And the Lord spoke to His people through His prophet Isaiah, who encouraged the king of Judah, Hezekiah and the people of Judah, who must have been terrified by the power of the king of Assyria. The Lord reassured them that the king of Assyria would not have what he wanted, and he would not conquer Jerusalem, as the Lord Himself would protect Jerusalem and His people, who at the time of Hezekiah had turned once again to the Lord in their hearts.
In the end, as we heard from the passage, the Lord sent His Angels and slaughtered more than a hundred thousand and eighty-five thousand men from among Sennacherib’s massive army. How they did that, whether through some form of calamities or deadly disease, is immaterial, but the impact was surely clear. The king of Assyria retreated back to his homeland in shame, and he was assassinated by two of his own sons.
Then, in the Gospel passage, we listened to the Lord Jesus speaking to His disciples and to the people, about how it is so difficult for man to pass through the narrow gate to enter into the eternal life promised to all those who have been faithful to God. This is actually showing the difficulties, obstacles and challenges that one will come to encounter during their journey of faith in this worldly life.
What all of us can, and indeed should learn from our Scripture passages today, is that, many of us were like king Sennacherib of Assyria in our lives and actions. King Sennacherib was proud and ambitious, because he had a vast empire, subjected many peoples and nations, and he had a mighty army that was without compare and competition, and literally, at that time, he could do everything he wanted.
However, he was humbled because he failed to realise that for all his greatness and power, all of those things were transitory, illusory and meaningless before God. All of his wealth, power, majesty and glory were nothing before God, and in the end, when he was murdered by his own sons, in the end, he had nothing, and he was just a mortal human being, who had to die and perish in his mortal body.
For us, it is a reminder that pride, ego, ambition and greed are serious obstacles and challenges that often prevented us from finding our way to God. If we do not make the conscious effort to resist the temptation of all these obstacles, then we will likely fall into temptation and end up sinning against God. That is why the Lord Jesus mentioned about the difficulty of entering into the eternal life, as a narrow gate, because there will indeed be a lot of challenges for us in our journey of life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, are we ready to pass through the narrow gate on our way to God? If we think that we are ready, then we must be ready to face the challenges and manage the obstacles that will be on our way. Let us all help each other in our way, and devote ourselves to the Lord with renewed fervour and zeal. May the Lord bless us all and be with us in this journey of faith, now and always. Amen.