St. Aloysius Gonzaga was an heir to prominent Italian renaissance
nobility. He surrendered the trappings and privileges of his rank
for the poverty, chastity and obedience of a religious. He entered
the Jesuits at the age of 17 and died at the young age of 23. During
those brief years, with God’s grace, a duke-to-be became a
The readings for this feast present a nice juxtaposition of question
and answer; and, in doing so, reflect the spiritual formation of
St. Aloysius. Perhaps they can have the same impact on each of us!
In the gospel Jesus confronts his disciples with this exchange:
“Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of heaven!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than
for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were
astonished and said: “Then who can be saved?” Jesus
looked at them and said: “For human beings it is impossible,
but not for God. All things are possible with God.”
How often we feel that tension, that exasperation, that there is
nothing we can do to gain God’s kingdom. No matter what we
do, our human nature catches up with us and frustrates our attempts/intentions
to be women and men of the gospel.
A quiet and reflective scroll through some of today’s passage
from St. Paul to the Romans can provide a guide and serve as a template
for attaining the kingdom of God. (The reality, of course, is a
lot harder than that sounds!)
• Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will
of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect:
This is a hard one, for the world is very much with us. The gift
of discernment is so important as we sort out what is of value and
what not in the things and the “stuff” of daily life;
yet, to be and act counter-cultural is daunting and even frightening.
This is the essence of the Principle and Foundation in Ignatius’
• Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what
See how the divided heart swings from what is good and beautiful
to that which is not. This disposition calls for self-knowledge
and purity of heart. This, too, is found in the first week of the
• Love one another with mutual affection:
This is Jesus’ great commandment to each of us during his
final days. Across the centuries his followers are known by how
they love one another.
• Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve
Be hungry for God, be passionate in building the kingdom of God
among us, respond to God’s directives to you, for they are
• Endure in affliction:
Remember for human beings some things are impossible, but not for
God. All things are possible for God. Take God—Father, Son,
and Spirit—into your afflictions and those of family and friends.
Indeed, take God with you in facing global afflictions like the
AIDS pandemic, the plight of refugees and political prisoners, and
• Persevere in prayer:
Jesus taught us how to pray and he promised us that “If you
seek, you will find; if you ask, you will receive; and if you knock,
the door will be opened.” What greater incentive do we need
to persevere in prayer, in and out of season, through darkness and
• Exercise hospitality:
How do you define hospitality? How do you seek out the less fortunate,
visit the sick, feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and make prisoners
• Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep:
We all laugh and cry with a sameness. Misery/failure and joy/success
both love company. How compassionate and comforting are we? How
do we keep company with those who suffer or those who rejoice?
• Do not be haughty or filled with yourself:
We are told there are many gifts and charisms in the church, all
to be used for one purpose: to build the kingdom of God among us.
In that distribution of gifts there are differences of degree and
intensity, but the purpose remains singular: God’s greater
glory, not yours!
• Do not repay anyone evil for evil; do not be conquered
by evil, but let evil be conquered by good:
The “eye for an eye” mentality is better left to the
world of the Old Testament. Remember: two evils do not make a good.
In ending this reflection we can say with St. Aloysius, in the
words of today’s Psalm: “In you, O Lord, I have found