2Kgs 19:9b-11,14-21,31-35a,36; Ps 48:2,3ab,3cd,4,10,11; Mt 7:6,12-14
“O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth.”
Even the mountain where the LORD dwells is the joy of all the earth. His praise is great in the city of our God and in all the cities of the world. For his holy mountain is the fairest of heights, its beauty fills the eyes of all who gaze upon it with tears of delight. This holy mountain is none other than Mount Zion found in the recesses of the north. It is the city of the Great King, the LORD who made heaven and earth. The LORD is renowned over all the earth, and his city is a stronghold for all who revere him. We make pilgrimage to this holy mountain so we can ponder his mercy within the Temple. As the Name of the LORD reaches to the ends of the earth, so too, his praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Since his right hand is full of justice, we dare to hope that his justice will cover the earth as water covers the sea. Even pagan kings turn back in the day of battle because the LORD is on the side of his Chosen Ones. Even those who have no respect for Christ Our King are summoned into the joy of His Kingdom. We, who celebrate the coming of the Kingdom in every Eucharist, gladly give ourselves over to the service of our great God and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, we spend ourselves in a life of witness by word and deed that the Kingdom of God is among us!
The envoy from the King of Assyria carried a message of boasting and ridicule. This pagan king was confident in his power to do with the People of God what he had done with all the other peoples. He was wrong, dead wrong. The Angel of the LORD struck down 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp and King Sennacherib went back home to Nineveh. The faith of King Hezekiah enabled him to pray with trust and confidence while his whole nation was being threatened. This good king knew that every other nation between Israel and Assyria worshiped idols. These nations were struck down because they worshiped the works of their own hands, gods of wood and stone. These false gods could not resist Assyria. With faith in the One True God, the LORD of heaven and earth, King Hezekiah could dare to hope for rescue and salvation. The Prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, spoke the divine response to the bold prayer of the king and his people: “I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.” Even though so many of the descendants of King David were not men after God’s own heart, still the LORD remains faithful to his promise. In our own day we have come to know that confidence in our own strength is deadly. Indeed, hope in the LORD is not born in our hearts until self-confidence dies. In the universal and timeless battle with the fallen angel of the LORD we dare to hope in the power of God no matter how many victories our enemy has won. Every temptation to turn away from the LORD is an empty promise and a false god. Our triumph is in God Alone.
The Lord Jesus also warns his disciples about the dogs and swine who have no respect for the pearl of great price, the Kingdom of God. The threat of being torn to pieces and trampled underfoot continues in our day. Yet, even in the midst of such danger, the Lord Jesus does not command his disciples “to take up arms against a sea of troubles and thus opposing, end them.” Rather, the Lord Jesus teaches us to enter through the narrow gate and travel along the constricted road. Though we may be few, we will live in peace and abound in virtue. This life of holiness will shine brightly before the world and attract the attention of those who have known only violence and strife. We will draw both those who seek peace and those who are only envious of our peace. Living among those who oppose us is not easy, but it may well be the only thing that keeps us from becoming lazy and barren. It’s so easy to live the gospel among other people of good will, but seldom do we find this situation in the reality of life in our world. The witness of bold believers will aggravate some and invite others. Either way we must become precious in the sight of the LORD and suffer all that is necessary to hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God. Such is our prayer here at Mass, such is the prayer we cry out and the LORD fulfills by giving us His Body and Blood. As we have been taught, “for where the King is there is the Kingdom!”