“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:14).
Our first reading today contains a very beautiful story: the miraculous defeat of the Assyrian army led by King Sennacherib who dared to make a mockery of God. There are indeed so many lessons to learn from this reading. King Sennacherib sent a letter to King Hezekiah saying: “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 the lands, destroying them utterly. And shall you be delivered.”
This was a direct message of threat not only to King Hezekiah as a person but even to God. But see how Hezekiah responded. He simply took the letter from the messengers and went up to the house of the Lord, spread it before the Lord and prayed. The prayer of Hezekiah can be likened to that of Jeremiah which we read on Sunday.
When faced with threats from enemies of the faith, let us learn to surrender completely to God. Hezekiah, like Jeremiah, simply went down on their knees to pray. “Lord, you test the mind and heart, let me see your vengeance against them for to you have I committed my cause.” (Jeremiah 20:12). When we display such faith and confidence in God, He always responds. As Jesus says: “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).
Do not panic. Just pray and surrender. Let God do your fighting. As soon as Hezekiah finished praying, the Spirit of the Lord roused the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz and he spoke an oracle which came to pass exactly as he said. That night, and Angel of God struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. King Sennacherib woke up the next day to see that nothing was left of all he had trusted. With great shame, he retreated on exile to the land of Nineveh.
The question is: “If you were in Hezekiah’s shoes, and you received such a frightening message, what would you have done?” Be honest with your answer. Just as Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage, not many people would be this confident in God’s ability to save them. Trusting God is a very narrow and difficult route, those who find it are very few. We claim to pray to God, yet we fear human beings more than we fear God.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, when I am afraid, teach me to call upon you with deep faith and trust. Amen. Bible Study: 2 Kings 19:9-11,14-21,31-35,36, Psalm 48:2-4,10-11 Matthew 7:6,12-14).