Wednesday June 5, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Reading (Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12) Gospel (St. Mark 12:18-27)
In answering the questions of the Sadducees in the Gospel reading today about the wife who marries seven brothers, the Lord tells these people that they will not be married nor given in marriage when they get to Heaven. Rather, He says that they are going to be like the angels, which is a rather interesting statement in itself because the Sadducees did not believe in angels either. So to be able to answer their question about the resurrection - which they did not believe in - He answers it by telling them about something else they did not accept. But then He tells them, "You are greatly misled." That is the point we must be very careful about. There are things that are going to come up that sound pretty good to us or we make it our own, but it is not necessarily what the Church teaches. That is how the devil gets in and misleads.
What we need to be careful of, as well, is precisely what Saint Paul was warning Timothy of. Saint Paul says to Timothy: "Do not be ashamed of the Gospel nor of me, a prisoner for Christís sake." We need to make sure that we are not embarrassed of the Gospel of Our Lord, that we are not embarrassed of Him. Saint Paul could say that he is not even embarrassed to be a prisoner for the Lord because he knows the One for whom he is suffering. As we look around and we have to endure the various difficulties - as Saint Paul says to Timothy: "to bear our share of the hardship which the Gospel entails" - it is something which is required of us if we are going to be Christian people. That is not an option.
Unfortunately, most of us would much prefer to say, "Well, thatís not really the way that it has to be. God doesnít really want us to suffer; we donít have to do that." Are we not like the Sadducees who say, "There are no angels; thereís no resurrection; whoís wife is she going to be anyway"? We will say, "There is a resurrection. There are angels. But we donít have to suffer; God doesnít really want that from us. God wants us just to live this perfectly happy life with no suffering, and He wants us to have all the materialism we can have. Thatís how He shows us His love." We are doing exactly what the Sadducees did and the Lord will look at us and say, "You are greatly misled." He is the One who tells us that we have to pick up our cross and follow Him. He is the One who speaks to us of suffering. All of the apostles speak to the same point of the necessity of suffering and even rejoicing in our suffering because it is a share in His suffering. The fact is, if we really look at it from that perspective, most of us not only do not want the suffering just because we do not want to suffer, but we do not want the suffering because we really do not want to be united to Jesus Christ. There is, way down at the bottom, that embarrassment or that shame and we do not want to have to deal with that.
We need to get to the point where we can be like Saint Paul, who can say, "I am not ashamed because I know the One in whom I have believed." It is not a belief that is at an armís distance; it is a belief that is at the depth of our being. When we have that kind of belief, we are going to want to be united with Him, we are going to want to be conformed to Him. And there is only one way to be conformed to Jesus Christ: that is, through His Cross. So we are not embarrassed of the Cross and we do not reject the Cross because it is the Lord Himself who has told us that is the only way we are going to get to Heaven. Of any other way we would have to say, "We are greatly misled." There is only one way, and that one way is Jesus Christ and His Cross. If we choose any other way, we have misled ourselves because we are not following our Shepherd, but we have decided how we should shepherd ourselves. And that is not going to lead us to Heaven. So if we want to be able to share in the life which our faith in the resurrection and our faith in the angels has held out for us, then we need to stop one point before that and say, "What about our faith in the Cross, our faith in suffering, our faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified?" Do not be ashamed of Jesus Christ, and be willing to bear your share of the sufferings which the Gospel requires.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.