Thursday June 19, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Corinthians 11:1-11) Gospel (St. Matthew 6:7-15)
In the first reading today from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he is writing in response to these people whom he calls the “superapostles.” These are people who claimed to have the faith of Christ and yet what they were teaching was contrary to the Gospel. And so he writes to say, “When someone else preaches the message to you other than the one that we preached, you seem to handle it quite well.” But he tells us that there is only one Christ, there is only one Gospel message. And he goes on to assure them that what he taught them and what he preached to them was the fullness of truth.
So too, in our society, there are many people who have accepted a Gospel other than the one that Jesus Christ teaches, other than the one true faith of Christ. We live in a society in which the truth has been watered down rather badly. If you saw the news yesterday, you know that in Canada they have now accepted homosexual marriages. When people hear these things, for whatever reason, many people do not recognize that this is completely wrong, that it goes totally contrary to the Gospel of Christ. We have the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe here today and it reminds us that the killing of innocent life is happening every day, not only in our city, in our state, and in our country, but throughout the world – two abortions per second throughout the world every single day. And most people just kind of shrug their shoulders and go on. It does not seem to bother them a whole lot. Contraception has become the norm among so many Catholics, or even worse than that, sterilization. There are lots of things where people do not want to live the Faith: not coming to Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, Sundays are no longer really a day of the Lord. Maybe we go to church if we feel like getting out of bed, but for the most part, Sunday is just another day, lots of activities, much to do, all kinds of busyness, very little room for Jesus Christ. When it comes to the Catechism, we seem to want to pick and choose in our society.
There is only one Gospel. There is only one Jesus Christ. If we are going to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, we need to follow the fullness of His Gospel – and it needs to be in love. Saint Paul even makes that clear at the very end when he talks about this boast of his and he says, “Why? Is it because I do not love you? No, God knows that I do.” And it is precisely because he loves the people of Corinth that he upholds the fullness of the truth. That must be our response as well. When we love the Lord and when we love the people of God then our response must be one of love. It is not one of love to say, “It wouldn’t be nice to speak the truth to them. We can’t say what’s right and what’s wrong because that might hurt someone’s feelings or they might not like it.” That is not charity. We have to speak the truth but we must do it in love. And so the manner in which we do it must be out of charity, out of the true good for the other person. We have an obligation to live the truth and to believe the truth and to speak the truth.
When Our Lord, in the Gospel reading, taught us how to pray – which is at the very center of His moral teaching of the Sermon on the Mount – it is to call God our Father and pray that His Will be done, that His kingdom come within each one of us, that we would do the Will of God. To do the Will of God is to do exactly what Jesus Christ has done and what He teaches us to do. That is the call each and every Christian person has.
We cannot water things down. We cannot accept falsehood. We cannot accept the things that are wrong and fall into the category that so many want to push. The argument that we hear from Planned Parenthood all the time is “That may be your opinion, but I’m entitled to mine. I won’t force my opinion on you, you don’t force your opinion on me.” The difference is we are talking about truth, not opinion; we need to make the distinction clear. We are talking about things that are objective. We are not talking about personal opinion. That is one of the beautiful things about being Catholic: It is not our opinion about what is right and wrong; it is an objective truth about what is right and wrong. And the truth, remember, is a Person: the Truth is Jesus Christ. So it is not up for grabs, it is not my opinion vs. your opinion or anyone else’s; it is about the objective truth and about the Gospel which has been preached from the very beginning and cannot be watered down because the truth will set us free, as Jesus said. Even if people do not like it, it is the only way. We must uphold the Gospel and we must preach it in season and out of season, as Saint Paul told Timothy. If people like it or not, we have an obligation to uphold it and not water it down in any way.
That is our call as Christian people, and it is critical in our day and age just as it was 2,000 years ago for the Corinthians because we have lots of people who are watering down the Gospel, and lots of people who are accepting the watered-down version of the teaching of Jesus Christ. We must uphold the fullness of His teaching and live the Gospel as the Church teaches it.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.