Wednesday July 18, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 3:1-6,9-12) Gospel (St. Matthew 11:25-27)
In the Gospel reading, Jesus praises His heavenly Father because what He has hidden from the learned and the clever, He has revealed to the merest children. We know that in the spiritual life one of the things that happens is as we grow we become simpler because we become more God-like. God is perfectly simple, absolutely and perfectly simple. Of course, this movement toward simplicity is exactly the opposite of what society tells us. Society tells us that the more we become mature, the more complex we become. We want to diversify our thoughts and actions and be involved in lots of things. We hold up people that we call the "Renaissance Men": people who know things about nearly everything and can do just about everything. They are amazing people. Then, we look at the saints and we see all the things God accomplished through them - not the things that they accomplished, but the things that God accomplished through them because they became simple. God, then, was able to use them as instruments to do His work.
We see this movement, for instance, in Moses. As we heard yesterday, he was plucked out of the water and raised in Pharaoh's own household. He would have been given a very fine education. He would have been raised in the royal court. He was a very powerful individual. Yet, today we see that he is out tending sheep in the desert. You see the way God works. "He casts the mighty from their thrones," says Our Blessed Lady in the Magnificat, "and He raises up the lowly."
That is precisely what has to happen to us in the spiritual life. Unfortunately, when God tries to do that we do not like it very well. We can imagine that Moses probably was not too amused by it, either: having to leave the royal palace and wander aimlessly in the desert for a while, then become a shepherd there, a nomad out in the desert. It was probably a very difficult thing for him - not only the adjustment in learning how to be a shepherd, but the humiliation of it all. But then you can see how much humility had come from it. Think of what Moses would have done about 20 years earlier if God had appeared to him and said, "I want you to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt." He probably would have said, "Well, after all, I have been raised as the son of the daughter of Pharaoh. I can do that. I have the power, the authority, and the ability." Now he is a shepherd, who had been raised in Pharaoh's household, and he says, "Who am I that I should lead the people out of Egypt?" You see the humility. It was only because of the humility that he was able to do what God wanted him to do. He became the meekest man on the face of the earth. This is the man who, in anger, had killed somebody and he became the meekest of all. You can see the way God works. Only the childlike can understand that.
What needs to happen for each one of us is something similar. God wants us to be holy. That means we have to be humbled, we have to be taken down from the little towers we have built for ourselves. We think that we are pretty good and pretty impressive, sometimes. God says, "Well, there are some wonderful and impressive things in you - but it is not you." He has to tear us down and humble us so we can do His work. We need to pray for that, actually, and we need to try and cooperate with it. It is very difficult. As I said earlier, when it happens we do not like it. We fight against it because, all of a sudden, what we were priding ourselves on and trying to impress others with we cannot do anymore. Suddenly, we have lost our position of power and all the impressive titles. We are humiliated. But it is only from that humiliation that God can truly raise us up. That is what He wants to do. Then we will be able, with Our Lord, to bless our heavenly Father because what He had hidden from us when we thought ourselves to be learned and clever, He will reveal to us when we become like the merest of children.
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.