June 21 - Feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J.

To celebrate the feast of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, S.J., (1568-1591) the liturgy offers the Eucharistic community the choice of three Gospel readings: Matthew 6, 7-15, Mark 10, 23-31 and John 1, 35-40. The first reading underlines the kind of prayer that pleases God: for content, the Our Father, for manner, "not for show." The second reading centers on the threat riches present to salvation--with the assurance that what a human being cannot overcome, God can. The third reading describes the first disciples’ being told, "There is the Lamb of God" and their staying with Jesus that afternoon--and all the rest of their lives. Aloysius had his own experience of the Lamb of God, stayed with Him for awhile, and continued to do so, in meditation, imitation, and Eucharist for the rest of life. An abbreviated life, to be sure--just 23 years. He came upon a very ill person one day, picked him off the street and carried him to help. He knew, from the advice of others, that there was grave danger in doing this, but he could not pass this person by--and so caught the deadly disease and died, because of his kindness. In his own way he became what the title, Jesus Lamb of God, stands for: a sacrifice to God for the benefit of others. One wonders how he came to this life-risking decision. Our first liturgical reading suggests a part of the answer. He prayed, and often. Indeed, he knew God as Father, which opens up an entirely new way of looking at one’s neighbor as well as one’s God. Certainly, his death, now so famous, was not for show. He did not ask for death, but asked for the life of the ill person--and he hoped he could succeed. His death was a by-product, not a goal; he did not die for show, but lived to help. Ironically, he was perhaps the least likely kind of person for this death, because he came from a very wealthy family with a secure future ahead of him, a life that could ignore the ill. He took his vow of poverty, confidant that God, who had invited him, would not fail him when he might fail himself; thereby, did he lose excessive concern for himself and find the freedom to love to the end. His trust, shown by his vow, was also the trust in his love of neighbor. He knew the Lamb was a symbol of sacrifice, but also a symbol of resurrected life. He committed himself, and we now gladly honor him as a great saint. John Kilgallen, S.J.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

It is astonishing to think that God would choose to enter the world this way: as a fragile newborn who could not even hold up his own head without help.
Ginny Kubitz MoyerOctober 20, 2017
Protestors rally to support Temporary Protected Status near the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 26. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
Around 200,000 Salvadorans and 57,000 Hondurans have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years under Temporary Protected Status. But that status is set to expire in early 2018.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 20, 2017
At the heart of Anne Frank’s life and witness is a hopeful faith in humanity.
Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J.October 20, 2017
Forensic police work on the main road in Bidnija, Malta, which leads to Daphne Caruana Galizias house, looking for evidence on the blast that killed the journalist as she was leaving her home, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Caruana Galizia, a harsh critic of Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat, and who reported extensively on corruption on Malta, was killed by a car bomb on Monday. (AP Photo/Rene Rossignaud)
Rarely does the death of a private citizen elicit a formal letter of condolence from the Pope.