Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded to entrust ourselves to the Lord and not to be easily swayed by sin, which would lead us down the path towards annihilation and destruction, and we must not let pride and hubris from affecting and influencing us or our actions in life. Instead, we should try our best to humble ourselves before God and heed His calls, listening to His words and reminders for us to turn away from our sins. We are all called to be holy and righteous in all of our words, actions and deeds, and everything ought to begin from our daily living.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of Kings of Israel and Judah the account of the attack on Judah and the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians, which happened during the reign of the righteous king Hezekiah of Judah. King Sennacherib of Assyria brought his whole vast army to conquer Judah and Jerusalem, and the people of God and their king were thoroughly outnumbered and no one would have expected them to survive the attack by the Assyrians, least of all from Sennacherib himself, who proudly believed and announced that no god or deity had ever protected any other nations he had destroyed and conquered, and that the same fate would happen to Judah as well.
But Judah and Jerusalem had the Lord, the one and only True God, Who was by the side of His people, Who listened to every single blasphemous words uttered by king Sennacherib in his vain pride and arrogance. The Lord listened to Sennacherib’s prideful words as well as Hezekiah and the people of Judah’s prayers for deliverance, made through the prophet Isaiah, all of whom trusted in the Lord and His providence and help. The Lord therefore delivered His beloved people from harm, and as we heard in our first reading today, sent His Angels to crush the forces of the Assyrians, and caused massive deaths among them, which led to Sennacherib having to retreat back to his land in shame.
The Lord showed that all those who pride in themselves and refused to believe in Him, or persecute those who have faith in Him, will face defeat and destruction in the end. He has always been with those who entrusted themselves to Him, just as He proved to the people of Judah and their king, Hezekiah. Pride is indeed a very grievous and terrible sin, and is something that can easily distract and pull us away from the path towards salvation. We must not be prideful and haughty, arrogant and thinking that we are great and powerful, for as we have heard, the Lord brought low those who were proud and mighty, when they boasted of their power and glory before others.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to His disciples and followers, calling on all of them to holiness, stating to them how the path to salvation and eternal life is truly one that is narrow and difficult, and unless one makes the effort to enter the narrow gate, then many may end up not being able to enter into that desired path. And why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is exactly because of pride, hubris and arrogance I mentioned earlier, the downfall of many of our predecessors, as well as many other things such as greed, jealousy, hatred, lust among other things.
That is why as Christians each and every one of us are called and challenged to remove from ourselves, our hearts and minds, all these obstacles of pride, greed, jealousy, hatred, gluttony, wrath, envy, sloth and all other things that often prevented us from finding our way towards God. We cannot allow those things to distract or tempt us to fall into the path of sin, again and again, as many of us had experienced throughout life. We are all called to be better Christians in actions, words and deeds, and we cannot be hypocrites who act in the way contrary to what our faith had shown and revealed to us.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, one of the renowned young saint of the Church, who despite his young age at death and relatively short life, managed to inspire many people who were touched by his dedication to God, his faith and contributions, in his commitment and personal holiness. St. Aloysius Gonzaga can become our inspiration in how we can be better disciples and followers of Christ, as even though he was born into an aristocratic noble family, and as firstborn son was in fact also the heir of his family titles and fortunes, he chose to leave it all behind to become a religious and priest.
Despite his father and family’s resistance and efforts to dissuade him from doing so, St. Aloysius Gonzaga would not be deterred, and after a lot of effort and persistence, he was finally allowed to join the religious life, and he chose to surrender all rights to inheritance, power and glory. He became a member of the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, and began his instructional period and training. He devoted himself thoroughly to his calling, even serving and caring for the poor and the sick around his community, and which caused him to be falling ill with the disease. Nonetheless that did not stop St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who continued with his labours until he passed away in his good works.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we can see from the example of the faith of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, his commitment and virtuous way of life, his humility and willingness to abandon the pursuit of worldly power and glory, each and every one of us are also called and challenged to be better Christians following his examples, to rid ourselves of unhealthy attachments and obsessions for worldly things and matters, and instead refocusing our attention on the Lord. Let us all seek the Lord from now on with renewed faith and zeal, at all times. May God bless each one of us, now and forevermore. Amen.