Tuesday September 25, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ezra 6:7-8,12b,14-20) Gospel (St. Luke 8:19-21)
In the first reading today, we hear how the kings of Persia had declared that some of the taxes and the revenue from the area that was known as West-of-Euphrates was to be applied to the building of the temple. We have to see the political element of what was going on here. The people in that area did not like the fact that the Jews were coming back to their homeland. They assumed that they were going to become enemies and that they would try to take over their own property, as well. So they started harassing the Jews, giving them a great deal of difficulty. Then, to make matters worse (from their perspective), the kings decided that the taxes from that area, instead of going directly to the governor of West-of-Euphrates, were now going to be used to rebuild the temple. And so they were filled with hatred for the Jewish people as they came back to their own land and were trying to reestablish themselves and rebuild the temple.
We see that it is going to be the same pattern that we hear in the Gospel reading: It is the ones who hear the Word of God and act upon it that are the brothers and the sisters and the mother of the Lord. In other words, it is not going to be an easy thing. The Lord has made this very clear to us, numerous times, in the Gospel. All we have to do is look at the Beatitudes and we are reminded that we are to rejoice when we suffer on behalf of the Lord, when we are persecuted because of our faith in Him. We tend to forget those passages in the Gospel because we do not like the way they sound. But the pattern is there: If we are going to do God's Will, if we are going to hear His Word and act upon it - like the people of the Old Testament were doing - then we are going to be persecuted. We are not going to be liked; people are going to give us grief because we are trying to live our faith. But Saint Peter tells us that it is then that we know that the Holy Spirit has come to rest upon us in His fullness: when we suffer for doing what is right.
When we look at our own lives we need to ask ourselves, then: "Am I doing the Will of God? Am I hearing His Word and acting upon it? Am I trying to live the way that God wants me to?" As we said yesterday, we can ask ourselves, "Am I really trying to build this temple of the Lord? Am I trying to make my life such that it is an obvious temple of the Lord? That it is dedicated to God? That it is for the glory of God? That everything I do is for Christ?" As Saint Paul says, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Are we doing everything in our lives for Christ? -Then we are being the temple of the Lord.
Think about a church that is dedicated to Christ and the things that go on there. There are some places where there are some very unfortunate things that go on. Any of us, looking at these particular churches, would be saddened by it. We would shake our heads and we would say, "Why are they doing that in the church? That is a place that is dedicated to Christ; they should not be doing these kinds of things in a church!" We see that a place set aside for the Lord has a certain dignity about it that must be kept.
You have been consecrated to the Lord. You are the temple of the Most High. Therefore, there is a dignity there that must be kept. If we were to apply to a church building what we rationalize out for ourselves, we would be shaking our heads and saying, "Why are they doing that in this building?" Then, we need to look at ourselves and say, "Why am I allowing some of these things in my own life? I am not acting on the Word of God. Therefore, I am not acting as a brother or a sister of the Lord. I am not acting like the temple of the Lord."
The Lord has called us to holiness. If we are going to live that holiness, we are going to be rejected by others; we are not going to be understood by others; they are going to give us grief. But that is what helps us to grow in virtue. We need to respond with charity to the insults and the difficulties that others provide for us. On our part, we must act as the Lord acted. We must listen to His Word and we must carry it out in our daily lives. We must seek to live lives of holiness and to make sure that we are applying to ourselves the kind of dignity that we would apply to the church; to make sure that nothing which is unbecoming or unfitting of the temple of the Lord would be allowed, then, in our lives because we have been consecrated to the Lord. We have been consecrated for holiness; that is what the Lord expects of us. That is what it would mean to hear the Word of God and to act upon it; to be a brother or a sister to the Lord; to be holy; to be one with Him - to be the temple of the Lord.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.