Give Yourself Entirely to God
Thursday March 18, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Lent
Reading (Jeremiah 7:23-28) Gospel (St. Luke 11:14-23)
In the first reading today, we hear, as God calls the prophet Jeremiah and tells him what his task is, that he is to go to the people of Israel and he is to preach the Word of God. But the Lord tells him that ever since He brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt until that very day, He had untiringly sent them His servants the prophets and they did not heed their voices, they did not listen. But they did not listen to the voice of God right from the very beginning. And He tells the prophet Jeremiah, “They will not listen to you either.” Now think about the task that God had given to Jeremiah: “You have to go out and preach. They won’t listen to you, but go ahead and preach anyway. In fact, they’re going to hate you for what you’re doing and they’re going to persecute you, but do it anyway.” Well, most of us would run the other way. We would become like the prophet Jonah at the thought of having to go and do something that we know is going to be a complete and total failure. Yet it is God’s way to warn the people, to give people an opportunity to turn so that there will be no one who will be able to say, “I didn’t know. I haven’t ever heard that before.” No one is going to be able to say that.
So too in our own day, God continues to do the exact same thing. There is not anyone who has not heard the truth, or who at least does not have it available to them. If they expended even the slightest amount of effort, the truth is right there at their fingertips. Anyone can get a hold of the Catechism. Anyone can ask some questions. I really think this recent movie that has come out is actually part of God’s providence for this exact reason: to turn people’s hearts to the Lord. And if people do not turn around, the day is coming when they will all be able to say, “You gave me fair warning and I chose not to listen.”
When we put that together with what we hear in the Gospel reading, that any house divided against itself will fall, then we need to simply remind ourselves, “Since we have given ourselves over to God – and if we are in the state of grace, we have the Trinity dwelling within; therefore, we are the house of God – yet if we are called to be the house of God, to do the works of God, to listen to the voice of God, and we choose not to and instead do the works of Satan, the house is going to fall.” We cannot be giving ourselves over to Satan and then do the work of God, nor can we give ourselves to God and do the work of Satan; it does not work. And so when we look at our own selves, we can ask ourselves, “What kind of sins are we committing? Are we a house divided? Are we giving God lip service while our hearts are far from Him? Do we have the words of God right before us and yet we have hardened our hearts and we have turned our backs and not our faces to the Lord? Do we fall into the exact same condemnation as the people did at the time of Jeremiah, not listening, not heeding the voice of God?”
This is the call that each one of us has: to be holy, to grow in virtue, to be the house of God, indeed the very temple of the living God, the dwelling place of the Most Holy Trinity. It is not the place where the devil belongs. It cannot be the abode of demons. It cannot be a place of filth. It cannot be a place where the red carpet is laid out for anything evil to enter in. We know that we are not perfect; we know that we sin; that is not the point. The point is what are we willingly giving ourselves over to that we do not want to get rid of? Where is the house divided? If the house is divided, we are going to be like a temple that is torn in two by the earthquake, claiming that part of it belongs to God while the other part belongs to Satan. You cannot do that. We have to make a choice.
Indeed, we are making the choice. If we are giving ourselves over to the devil and we are indeed a house divided, we have chosen Satan over God. We have to choose God and it has to be a radical choice, not just “Well, yeah, I guess if it was this way I would probably choose God” – no, that is not going to be enough. And it is not enough to give Him lip service. It is going to be in our words, it is going to be in our actions that our choices are demonstrated. We have to be a unified house, a house where the one God reigns supreme, a house where there is no opening for anything evil, a house that is undivided and given solely to the Lord.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.