Tuesday July 13, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading (Isaiah 7:1-9)   Gospel (St. Matthew 11:20-24)

 

Our Lord, in the Gospel reading, condemns the towns where He had done the majority of His work, and He condemns them mainly because the miracles that were worked there did not bring the people to repentance and conversion. Now these are miracles of things like people being healed, the blind being able to see, the paralyzed being able to walk, and so on. They are as nothing compared to the miracles that have happened in us. We have had our sins forgiven, we have received Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, and so the question that we have to ask is: Have we repented? Have we turned our hearts completely to the Lord? When you think about the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah and Tyre and Sidon were the cities that people would use when they wanted to demonstrate just how horribly sinful something was in the Old Testament times, and Jesus says, If the works that have been done in you were done in them, they would still be standing. And more than that, it will go easier for those towns than it will for you on the Day of Judgment, now stop and think about the fact that the towns that were considered to be the example of sinfulness are going to have an easier time on the Day of Judgment than the towns where Jesus had done His miracles simply because it was the Lord Who did it and the people refused to repent.

 

So, once again, we look at our own selves and we can ask that question. We might be quick to say, “Well, no, I’ve repented and I’ve turned to the Lord,” but then we need to look at the first reading and we need to ask ourselves how wholeheartedly we have turned to Christ. As it says at the end of the first reading, If your faith does not remain firm, you will not remain firm. The important point of this is that this was given by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Jerusalem when Jerusalem was being attacked, when it was under siege. It was not difficult for the people of Jerusalem to be able to say, “Oh, I have faith in the Lord,” when nothing much was happening. It is pretty easy for all of us to do the exact same thing. When everything is going well, nobody is really after us in any way, life is pretty good, it is not too difficult to say that we have faith in the Lord.  But the reality is, for many of us, that we rely on ourselves. We rely on our own strength, on our own abilities, and we do not really trust in the Lord. We come to Him in prayer, we come to Mass, we want Him to be part of our lives, but the reality is that we trust ourselves, not Him, and that is where we are going to be in trouble. That is where we can say that if we do not have faith in Christ – true faith, complete trust in the Lord – and we are trying to rely on ourselves, it is not going to work. That is where the Lord would be able to look at us and say, “If the work done in you had been done in some of the local prostitutes, some of the local organized crime bosses, some of the more unfortunate people that you might see wandering the streets doing some pretty stupid things…” If the works done in each one of us had been done in them, they probably would be saints right now. We, on the other hand, are kind of scraping along, not always so sure about all of this, and yet for them perhaps it is going to go easier on the Day of Judgment than it will for us because we have been chosen by Christ and He has worked mighty works in us. Where is the fruit? Where is the faith? Where is the trust? That is what we have to look at, and we need to look at that question very, very seriously.

 

If our faith does not stand firm, we will not stand firm. And if we cannot put our faith in Christ in small day-to-day matters, what are we going to do when things get really bad? Are we going to stick with Him? Or are we going to try to do it our own way on our own strength and fall away like most of the others? Those are the only two possibilities. So, again, the words of God spoken through the prophet Isaiah: If your faith is not firm, you will not remain firm.

 

* This homily text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.