Tuesday October 9, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Jonah 3:1-10) Gospel (St. Luke 10:38-42 )
In the first reading today, we hear about Jonah going through the city of Nineveh and preaching: "Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed." When the people heard his words, they believed. And because they believed what he said, they repented. And in their repentance, they did penance. They changed from their evil ways. It was not just an external sort of thing, merely putting on sackcloth and ashes; it was not merely a fast - but they changed the way they were living. They showed God by their actions that they intended to amend their lives.
That is precisely what is necessary for each and every one of us and, with all that is going on, for our country as a whole. It is one thing to look at all the awful things happening on the outside and being able to say, "What a tragedy. What a sad thing that these things are happening." Then we sit in front of the TV for hours and hours, watching it to make sure that we get every last little detail and to see if we blew up just the right thing, or whatever it might be. What good does it do? We need to repent. It is not just an external thing of saying, "Isn't that sad? Look at what is happening. Isn't that too bad?" That is not enough. It needs to be an internal reality; it needs to be a change.
We need to learn from Mary in the Gospel reading, as well. To sit at the Lord's feet and listen to His words, this is what is necessary - to hear the Word of the Lord. The Lord's words, when capsulated into one sentence, were "Repent and believe the Good News." So we need to change our lives. We need to hear His Word, and we need to do something about it. Martha was anxious and upset about many things, so are the American people these days - anxious and upset about many things. Sadly, what they are anxious and upset about mostly is their own sense of security, which means that we do not trust very well in the Lord if we are anxious and upset about all these things.
We need to focus on Christ. As things escalate, there is only one way that anybody is going to be able to make it, that is, if they are focused on Jesus and united with Him. If you are going to rely upon yourself, or if you want to rely on American military prowess, we are in big trouble. We have one hope and one hope only, that is, Jesus Christ. We need to hear His words and then we need to repent. We need to change our lives. That is all that is ultimately going to be required on our part. We need to pray; we need to stop sinning; we need to get things in order.
It is not enough just to shake our fist at somebody who may have done something against our country, or whatever it might be that we want to claim; what is necessary is that we make some changes. Those changes have to begin with us: the people who claim to believe in Christ, the people who want to worship God, the people who want to do what is right. Someone pointed out to me yesterday that in the various apparitions of Our Lady, and especially when she came to Fatima, she asked that "good" people would begin to pray. Isn't that interesting? That the "good" people would begin to pray, not the bad ones; she did not expect that they were going to do a whole lot. But she had to come from Heaven to ask "good" people to start praying! What is wrong? If we consider ourselves to be among those who are good and trying to do the Lord's Will, then we need to pray and we need to repent and we need to change.
That is what the people of Nineveh did and God spared their city. America has shown absolutely no indication of repentance. Zero. Revenge, yes; repentance, no. God's way is very clear: We need to repent; we need to change. And do not underestimate the ability and the power of your prayers. If Catholic people throughout this nation started to pray and to fast and to repent and to quit sinning and to quit looking at all the nonsense and being anxious and upset, we could wipe this whole problem out instantly. If every Catholic in this nation were to pray and to repent, abortion would be over with tomorrow. But we are not.
There is a reason all this stuff is going on. It is because we are not turning to God; we are not sitting at His feet; we are not listening to His words; we are not changing our lives in accordance with His Word. Instead, we keep looking at all the events around us and we are anxious and upset about many things. We need to choose the better part, and the better part is right in front of us: He is Jesus Christ. (Father is referring to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.) That is all that is needed. That is what the Lord said: "One thing only is needed." Do not worry about all the rest of the stuff! "One thing only…" - and that is Him.
So, for our part, it is to get our hearts and our minds focused on Him, to trust, to be at peace. Do not worry about everything else, just repent and believe the Good News.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.