Daily Reflection
June 21st, 2003
Howie Kalb, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, religious
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Psalm 34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Matthew 6:24-34

The challenge of our Scripture passages today has to do with our trust in the Lord.  Paul enumerates the many strengths and achievements of his life.  He refrains from dwelling on them lest others think too highly of him.  After all, he is only too aware of his weaknesses and limitations, the "thorn in the flesh."

He is really glad for these weaknesses, because it keeps him humble.  And using him as his instrument Jesus accomplishes all the good that is happening through Paul's efforts.  No danger of Paul becoming conceited by taking credit for the success of his ministry among the Gentiles.  "I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me....for when I am weak, then I am strong."

And Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount again emphasizes our complete dependence upon God for our entire lives.  He uses two analogies to make his point lest the crowd miss his teaching.  His Heavenly Father protects and cares for the birds of the air.  How much more important are we than they?  And why worry about our clothes?  Not even the richest man, Solomon, was able to find clothes to rival the splendor of the flowers of the field.  If the Lord looks after the birds and the flowers, he will certainly look after you and me.

Then follows the challenge for us.  "Oh you of little faith!  Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself."  That's not too difficult when all goes well.  It's another story when serious sickness, family problems, financial woes and other crises threaten our equilibrium.  Honestly, what is our reaction in such situations?  Most of us would have to answer:  "We usually worry!"

St. Aloysius, in the face of a 'sars-like' epidemic, spent his days ministering to the afflicted of Rome.  He trusted the Lord to protect him from the plague or to take him to himself as the reward for his heroic service to his neighbors.  I've a feeling, Aloysius, like Paul, was glad for the Lord's promise: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness."  That would help to explain how Aloysius, at the age of 23, became a saint - the "Patron of Youth" -  and is interceding for us with God today.

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