Friday† March 12, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Second Week of Lent
Reading (Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a)
Gospel (St. Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46)
In the Gospel reading today, there is an interesting twist in the logic of these people when the Lord says, ďI will send them my son and surely they will respect him,Ē and they said, ďLook, here is the heir. Let us kill him and we will have his inheritance.Ē Now, of course, their way of looking at this was completely skewed; but for ourselves, it is the absolute truth. It is precisely the fact that Our Lord went to His death that we have become heirs of heaven, that the inheritance which is His has actually become ours, that we have a share in that inheritance, that God Himself is our inheritance. This would not be done if Our Lord had not died.
So we realize that what God does is take the evil and make it into something good. It is the way that He works in our lives; it is the way that He works throughout history. When we look, for instance, at what happened to Joseph in the first reading, his own brothers sell him as a slave and it is Godís Will. I am sure that for quite a few years Joseph would not have recognized that this was Godís Will, but the fact is that Joseph remained faithful to the Lord even in his slavery. In time, what he had said was proven true, because God had revealed certain things to him; and his being sold into slavery became the means by which the whole people of Israel was saved. Now it is precisely the same. Because Our Lord was faithful to His Father, His being sold into the slavery of the Cross by us, by our sins, His becoming the servant of all and serving all, becomes the means by which we have been saved.
Now when we look at the way that God works in these matters, we realize then that the same is true for each one of us. When difficult things befall us, when bad things happen that we do not understand, what we have to be able to see is that somehow God is going to work in this. It does not make any sense on the surface level, there is nothing in it that appears to be good, and our natural inclination is to fight it and think that there is something wrong. Well, when we look at what happened to Joseph and when we look at what happened to Jesus, something was wrong. The thinking of the people was wrong, but it was all part of Godís providence to use the way that they were operating to bring about a greater good. And so we have to apply the same principle to ourselves. It does not matter what the intention is of the individuals who may plot against us; it does not matter what it is that happens in our lives; God is going to use it for good. Whether that is in the immediate, just to share in Our Lordís Passion and offer that up for others; or whether that is going to be to bring about greater virtue in our lives; or whether that is going to be that the Lord will use it for something extraordinary, as He did with Joseph and as He did with Our Lord, we do not know and it does not matter. What we have to understand is that it is all part of Godís Will.
When we look at what Jesus did, and if we looked at our own selves if we had to do something similar, we would say, ďThis canít be Godís Will.Ē But remember the prayer of Our Lord in the garden: ďNot my will be done, but yours.Ē It was Godís Will that that is what had to happen. On the natural level, again, it makes no sense; in fact, it would seem just the opposite. How could this be the Will of God? But when we realize what God intended: to bring about the salvation of the whole world, to make us heirs with Christ, members of Jesus, so that we would share in His inheritance and indeed His inheritance would become ours, we realize the providence of God in all of that. It is only through His death that we have life. It is only through that spiritual death which we endure through Baptism that we become members of Christ and heirs of heaven. And it is only through our own suffering that we are going to be able to share in His Passion, that God will bring good out of all these things for ourselves and for others.
It is when we see the pattern in people like Joseph and Our Lord, and so many others and all the saints throughout history, that we can say for our own selves that even though we do not understand all of the suffering, all the difficulty and all the problems are part of Godís providence. And it does not matter what the purpose is why somebody may be doing it to us, God is going to use this to bring about a greater good and to allow us to share in Our Lordís Passion and in Our Lordís Resurrection. So it is for us to accept and to offer to the Lord and to pray with Jesus, ďNot my will be done, but Yours,Ē and let God bring about the good that He desires from our suffering.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.