Albeit ancient, the reading from the Second Book of Kings offers thoughts that are quite suitable for our contemporary circumstances. We read an account of the happenings in the kingdom of Israel after God had chosen the people to be his chosen ones. The account brings our focus to the failure of the people to live up to divine expectations. It demonstrates, perhaps in its own way, the burden and the glory for those who are God's chosen ones.
We are God's chosen ones present in a world that is torn between God's powerful presence and Satan's cunning challenges. The Book of Exodus, 19:1-5, makes clear how God wanted his people to be fully human and happy. He promised always to be with us if we follow his commands to us.
Like the Israelites, our contemporary world has followed other "nations." We have bought into ways of life that pull us away from where God wants us to be. This reading surely reaffirms that living the Christian life is never an easy reality. Every day in our world puts challenges before us to give into the the ways of life that divide us from God.
The Church honors the memory of a saint whose name is not unknown in this nation's capital city: St. Aloysius Gonzaga. Surely as those who were familiar with this 16th century young Jesuit, the patron of the Jesuit high school just a few block from the Capitol building, recognized a holy young man. However, even as Cardinal and Saint Robert Bellarmine (SJ), his spiritual director noted, his practices of penance and rejection of the ways of the world in his time, was far beyond what almost all humanity could not endure. In today's world, Aloysius would most likely be considered somewhat "weird." We can look beyond his extremes. We can see a young man whose heart was directed toward God; a young man who wanted nothing more than to be with the Lord and to arrive before him with a heart as close to perfect as possible.
Surely most of us cannot be an Aloysius in today's world. However, we can look at our lives to discover what separates us from God and at the same time discover what can bring us back to him.