Wednesday June 12, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Kings 18:20-39) Gospel (St. Matthew 5:17-19)
In the first reading today, we hear about the prophet Elijah and the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Recall at the time that King Ahab, who was the husband of the wicked Jezebel, was worshiping the false god Baal. And Jezebel had gotten all the people to do the same. Elijah had complained at one point that of all the people in Israel he was the only one left who worshiped God. The Lord let him know that was not true. But what we see is that the vast majority - the vast majority - of the people of Israel had gone over to the worship of false gods.
So Elijah calls all the people and says, "Make a choice. Which one is God? If it's Baal, then worship him. If it's the Lord, then worship Him." But the people would not answer because they were so confused at this point; they were so led astray by their own sinfulness and by the confusion that had worked its way in that they could not make a decision. They really were not sure who the real God was.
Then Elijah says, "Prepare two bulls and let's see what happens; the God who answers in fire is the true God." It is very interesting to see how these prophets of Baal were doing things. This is exactly what the Satanists still do today. It is pure diabolical worship: cutting themselves, slashing themselves, hopping around the altar, doing all their nonsensical things while calling on their false god. Then we have Elijah who simply says a prayer and the fire comes down and consumes everything. The people, then, proclaim the Lord as God only because they saw the extraordinary work the Lord had done.
I point all these things out because it is precisely the circumstances that we are living in today. We have lots and lots of people who would have called themselves Christian ten years ago who are not anymore, who are living a totally pagan life, who have fallen into false worship - even though they know fully well what the Scripture says. The Lord tells us that not even the smallest part of the letter of the law is going to pass away until it is all fulfilled, and they know that. They know who Jesus Christ is; yet they are so confused by the nonsense that is going on in society that if you asked them, "Make a choice," they will stand there silently and stare at you because they do not know what choice to make. They are completely confused and wrapped up in the nonsense that is going on.
What we need to do, on the other hand, is to remain faithful, knowing that things are only going to get worse in society. More and more people will fall away from the Lord. But we need to hold out hope, just like Elijah. He could have said, "The people have all wandered from the Lord. Forget them!" But God did not do that. God allowed the people to stand there to see how little faith they had and then showed them through these signs and wonders that the Lord truly is God. Similar things are going to happen in our society. People are going to see extraordinary works of the Lord, and it will be that that is going to bring about their conversion. On our part, we must remain faithful and we must pray for those who do not have the strength or the faith to be able to remain faithful to the Lord. We must pray for their conversion back to Christ.
And we must pray that we will be able to remain firm and steadfast. Just like the people in Israel, none of us can sit back on our own laurels and say, "Thankfully, I will never fall away." We need to know that our own faith is in the same boat. If circumstances were right, any of us could fall astray. So we need to pray. It is like the Lord told His own disciples, "Pray that you will not be put to the test." We need to pray because this is the time when the test has come upon this world, and it is going to get a little bit worse. We need to pray for ourselves and we need to pray for our families and for our friends. We need to pray for the people we do not even know that they will have the grace, when the time comes, to turn to the Lord. Do not pay any attention to how bad things get because it does not matter. All that matters is that we remain faithful and that, in charity, we pray for others so that they will be able to make that decisive decision - that ultimate decision - for or against Jesus Christ.
For each one of us, we have to make the decision. If one of these false gods is the god you want to worship, then go and worship that god. Quit playing games. But if the Lord is God, then worship Him and reject all these nonsensical false gods. Remain faithful to Jesus Christ all the way to the very end.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.