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_*“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14)*_

Today’s readings contain many practical lessons on pride, faith, prayer and relationships. King Sennacherib, like Goliath, challenged God by sending a threatening letter to Hezekiah: “Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, destroying them utterly. And shall you be delivered?” (2 Kings 19:10-11). This brings us to our lessons today:

– Avoid pride; never trust in human power. Senacherib’s fall began with pride. Having defeated many nations, he felt he was unstoppable with his men and machines. History is filled with examples of people who boasted of their strength and the power of their inventions, only to regret it later. The fact that you have been successful in the past does not give you the right to challenge God. You may not believe in the power of prayers or the possibility of divine intervention but do not insult those who still believe in God.

– Hezekiah, like David, displayed great faith in God. When he read the letter, he didn’t panic because he knew what God could do. He took the letter from the messengers, went up to the house of the Lord, spread it before the Lord, and prayed: “So now, O Lord our God, save us, I beseech thee, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou, O Lord, art God alone.” (2 Kings 19:19).. What would I do if I was in a similar situation? Would I even remember to pray?

– King Senacherib’s threat can be likened to the waves that beat the boat while the disciples crossed the sea at night. (cf. Mark 4:35-41). For a moment, the disciples forgot that Jesus was with them in the boat. They ran from pillar to post, expecting the worst to happen. Whether we like it or not, challenges (storms of life) are inevitable. In such moments, remember that you are not alone: “Even the hairs of your head are numbered, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Cf. Matthew 10:28,30). Surrender your fears to God and let Him fight for you.

– After praying, expect the best possible outcome. Do not threaten anyone. The best response to an enemy is silence. This is the point Jesus makes in today’s Gospel passage: “Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6). Hezekiah did not exchange words with Sannerchrib. There is no need to argue or fight with those who do not believe in God. You don’t tell people what God can do; you allow them to experience God. When Sennacherib woke up the next morning and saw that one hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers were dead, he did not need anyone to tell him that God was not someone he could challenge. With great shame, he retreated into exile to the land of Nineveh.

– Do not make the mistake of Sennacherib. No matter how powerful you are, be good to people. You may be on top today but do not know what tomorrow holds. Treat others as you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes. When someone begs from you, remember that you are also a beggar before God. Jesus says: “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). Be kind to others not because they deserve it but because you expect kindness if you were in their shoes. Of course, this is not an easy thing to do.

– There is nothing easy about living like Christ, yet this is our calling. “The gate is narrow, and the way is hard, leading to salvation.” In another passage, Jesus said: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24). Letting your light shine in a world that loves darkness is like swimming against the tide. Embrace the difficult choice of doing what is right, even if it is unpopular. If you are threatened for doing what is right, trust in God like Hezekiah did. God knows how to fight for his children.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach me to call upon you with deep faith and trust when I am afraid. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Bible Study: 2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-36, Ps. 48:2-4,10-11, Matthew 7:6,12-14).*

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu


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