June 21, 2019
by Michael Cherney
Creighton University's Physics Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Lectionary: 369

2 Corinthians 11:18, 21-30
Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Matthew 6:19-23
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

* Fr. James Martin, S.J. on Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

In his letter, Paul lists the suffering that he has endured in the service of his faith. The psalmist praises God for His protection of His people. The Gospel considers nature of true treasures concluding with a short parable which is perhaps meant to focus one on God and generosity.

Today’s readings are appropriate for the feast of Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, a young Jesuit who died of the plague in the service of his fellow man.

I find myself wondering, how service and generosity have changed over my lifetime. Growing up in the sixties and seventies, I feel that I experienced a period with a greater focus on the larger society as well as a period of great cultural change. This was a time when we seemed to question the value of material goods to a greater extent. Starting in the eighties a focus on the one’s self seemed to increase. (Research suggests that there has been a decrease in the number of individuals giving and volunteering, although those who give have become more generous, so my perceptions may not be so far off.)

When I contemplate Paul reading the excerpt from his letter that we find in the first reading, I see a man who has grown frustrated by the mistruths which he is encountering. I see Paul as a charismatic figure who possessed the advantage of Roman citizenship. This passage demonstrates Paul’s commitment to the Christian cause.

My reading of the Psalm suggests that its author had endured a significant challenge and made it through by the grace of God.

I can imagine myself in the crowd hearing the words from today’s Gospel as Jesus’ presents them as part of his Sermon on the Mount. I realize how much I want the heavenly treasure, but I am well aware of how many of the earthly treasures which I retain for security.

I wonder how far I would be willing to invest myself in God’s service. I notice that frequently (in an effort to maintain good relations) I tend to become silent when people express political views which are at odds with what my faith instills in my heart. I find it doubtful that I would endure the kind of suffering that Paul endured. I consider it unlikely that I would have had the outward expressions of trust in God that the psalmist possesses (unless I was in a context where I felt “safe”). I consider Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel. I volunteer, but I continue to live a relaxed semi-retirement. I look at what I do with my financial resources. Funds first go into supporting a comfortable (although not extravagant) lifestyle, then into the retirement account and economic security, and only finally to charity. I have a sense of personal guilt and frustration with how much I have and how many people are truly in need. I know that I could be doing more in both my words and contributions. I do give my wife credit for helping me in identifying where there is the greatest need and where the donations of time and money do the most good.

My prayer today is to challenge myself to go further in service to the call of my faith.

Dear Lord,
Help me to have the faith of the psalmist.
I wish for the courage to be more public in supporting the directions in which faith leads.
I pray for growth in trust in Your will and for a greater openness to take risks in support of those in need.
I ask for the commitment to service as modeled by Jesus, Paul and Aloysius Gonzaga.

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