June 21, 2022
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious
Lectionary: 372

2 Kings 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36
Psalm 48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 10-11
Matthew 7:6, 12-14

Praying Ordinary Time

A brief bio of the Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga.

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

We are reading from the last chapter of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ “Sermon of the Mount.” Jesus is placed by Matthew as the new Moses, or leader of a larger People of God. Instead of the Law being engraved in stone, the New Law is the Person of Jesus extending His teachings to be written in His followers hearts.

The first line of today’s Reading from the Gospel is a real ear-catcher. Hidden within this one line is a subtle prediction of Jesus’ fortelling His way of presenting sacred gifts, (His teachings).   some, (the Pharisees) will trample His words under their feet of power and then turn on Jesus Himself.

The image is taken from the practice of sacrificing sheep and goats in the temple which then is “holy” and not to be thrown to common dogs and pigs. These are indeed hard words for the authorities to hear, but Jesus has only just begun to provoke them and they will eventually have heard enough.

I am moved by the other verses of today’s Gospel to ponder some, on the “road” and “narrow gate” as an image of the Spiritual Life. It seems that the “road” which leads to destruction is paved with self-expectations, self-satisfying self-constructing. If it is all about me, then that’s what I get, just an isolated me and a quite negative-me.  I could do very good things so as to feel very good about this “self.” The “prediction” is not hell or damnation, but eventually some forms of chaos or un-creation.

At the center of the spirituality of Jesus is a self, centered in our being created in Christ, to continue God’s creation within us and through us to all of God’s Family. It is a life of being constantly created in my soul, my spirit, my heart and my relationships. Ah, not enough, yet, there is an entering into the creational relationships which I enter into as a real blessing of creation in the lives of others. Yup! The Spiritual Life is actually a lively life flowing into us and then out all as the creative Love of the Creatively Infinite Mystery we call God.

The Spiritual Life is not, no! never totally about “me” and my self- improvement. Forget self-improvement.  That is the wide road which wanders from side to side getting us nowhere except self-preoccupied spiritual-inferiority.

All prayer, devotion, sacraments included, are gifts designed exclusively as experiences of our being prepared to be a creational presence and gift from God to God’s family. Amazing! A “narrow way,” yes, because it is so counter-cultural, so opposed to self- perfection as a spiritual ideal. After we pray, after receiving any of the sacraments, we leave to live; we receive to donate; we say “yes” so as to say “here.” The more I say “yes” to the creation I am, the less I am mine and more your’s.      

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