Wednesday July 17, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16) Gospel (St. Matthew 11:25-27)
Our Lord makes very clear to us in the Gospel that if we want to be able to know the Father it is going to require that we become childlike. He tells us that no one knows the Father except the Son, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Then He says, "Only those to whom the Son wishes to reveal the Father are going to be able to know Him." But He begins by praising the Father for revealing to the childlike what He has hidden from the learned and the clever. So for those who think they have something all by themselves, God is not going to give it to them because they will try to take it for themselves.
At the same time, what we do see is that there are many people who, in learning the Faith and having an intellectual knowledge of the truth, become conceited and boastful anyway. Their pride in just having knowledge leads them away from God. And the tragedy is that it is the very knowledge of God that is leading them away from God. They become very Pharisaical; they become arrogant and they wander from the Lord. And so, again, what we see is that the learned and the clever think that they did this all by themselves, that by their own power and their own ability they were able to come to a knowledge of the truth. They do not recognize that, first, it is God's gift that they have the intelligence and, secondly, it is only by His grace that they were able to apply their intelligence to being able to understand the truth. What winds up happening is that their understanding of the truth leads them completely into falsehood because they take their eyes off the truth - that is, off the One who is Truth - and put them on themselves. If we look at ourselves, we know it is not going to be truth. Even if we know a lot of truth, we know if we have got our focus in the wrong place that we have lost the truth.
That is exactly what the Lord says about Assyria in the first reading. He raised up Assyria and made it one of the most powerful nations in the ancient world, and He was going to use Assyria as His rod to punish an impious nation. But that was not the intent of Assyria, the Lord says; rather, the intent of Assyria became to destroy and to look at it and say, "It is by my own wisdom and my own power that I'm doing this," rather than recognizing that it is the Lord. Therefore, the Lord is going to destroy the very nation that He raised up to punish others.
The same is going to be true of the arrogant. If they think that they have been able to obtain all of this on their own, they are going to destroy themselves and they will be condemned. Even if they can stand before the Lord and say, "But didn't I do all these things in Your Name?" He is going to say, "I tell you, I do not know who you are. Get out of My sight, you evildoer!" because the person is not doing it for the Lord. Rather, the person is using the Lord's Name, but for his own good, for his own sake: to try to impress others or to further his own cause. He is not trying to further the Lord's cause or do His work.
So for each one of us, the same thing needs to be looked at. Are we trying to become humble, small, and childlike? Are we seeking the Lord for the Lord's own sake? Or are we getting puffed up with our own selves, thinking about how much we know or thinking about how holy we have become? Which should be the first indication that we are not very holy if we are thinking about how holy we are; obviously, that goes directly contrary to what holiness would be about. Are we becoming proud of our humility? Which should tell you once again that we do not have any humility if we are getting arrogant about how humble we have become. We could go on and on with the list. All we need to do is look and see if the dichotomies are there or if we are becoming more Christ-like. If we what we can find within is that we are getting puffed up with ourselves, that we somehow think we are doing this on our own - even though we will acknowledge that, of course, this comes from the Lord but the reality is that we are taking it as our own - then we are wandering from the Lord, we are taking our eyes off the Lord even if we claim to be serving Him.
We need to make sure that we are praying for humility, that we are praying to be childlike, that we are not getting puffed up with ourselves and not getting caught up into ourselves, but rather, that we are getting caught up into the Lord and being filled with Him because only to those who are childlike, only to the little ones will the truth of the Father be revealed. Only those will know the Father to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him, and only those will know the Son to whom the Father wishes to reveal Him - only those who are the small, the humble, and the childlike.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.