Tuesday August 3, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22)
Gospel (St. Matthew 14:22-36)
In the first reading today, the prophet Jeremiah, as he looks about at the problems of the people (their exile into a foreign land and all the difficulties they were enduring), points out the fact that the wound that has been inflicted upon the people is incurable, that their bruise is grievous, that their pain is without relief; and he tells them that this is because of their own sins and it is the Lord Who has inflicted this upon them. But then the Lord tells them that He is going to heal them. He is going to bring them back to their own land, He is going to make someone from their own kin their ruler, and He is going to restore the glory of Israel.
When we look around at our situation today, we could say unlike the people of old that there isn’t any place to be exiled to because the whole world has gone astray, the whole world has gone mad. Where would the Lord exile us to? There isn’t any place to go. Instead, what He is choosing to do is simply to allow us to sit in our own woundedness. But the tragedy is that we are so wounded that we do not even realize there is a wound – the people of this generation enjoy it! Rather than recognizing that their pain is without relief, they think they are filled with consolation. They do not even realize how miserable they are because they have been convinced that being miserable is being “happy”. So we walk around with all these people telling us how happy they are and it is so obvious that they are not, but they are convinced that they are because they have what they think is going to make them happy. Their wound is incurable and their bruise is grievous, but the tragedy, again, is that they do not even know they are wounded.
And so the Lord is going to inflict on His people something that is going to help them realize just how wounded they are, just how bad things have gotten, and then He is going to restore things. But, in the meantime, we have to turn to Him. When things get really bad – as if they are not bad enough already, but because people do not even realize things are bad the Lord is going to let things get completely out of hand – if we do not look at Him, like Peter we are going to sink. There is only one way that we are going to be able to survive, and that is Jesus. He is the only way. Therefore, as He points out to Peter, we have to have faith. We have to keep our focus completely and solely on Him. There is no other way. As soon as He got into the boat, the winds died down; and as soon as He got in the boat, His disciples proclaimed that He was indeed the Son of God.
Well, that is the profession that is on our lips. Is that the way we live our lives? That is, if somebody looked at the way we live would they be able to recognize by our actions that we believe firmly that Jesus is the Son of God and that we trust completely in Him? The problem is that the devil in his shrewdness has convinced the whole world that we do not really need to trust God because we have everything else. We can trust in the electricity and we can trust in all of our gadgets that we can plug in and we can trust in our own selves and we can trust in our cars and we can trust in everything else so we do not need God. Well, we need Him, but we do not really have to trust Him because there is nothing to trust Him for. So we have to watch where we have fallen into the trap because if we put our eyes on all of our material things, when it gets really bad we are going to sink. The only way is to keep our eye on Jesus and call out to Him as Peter did; otherwise, the waves are going to be way too high, and if we are going to try to do it on our own, we will not.
Jesus is our only way. He is the one who is allowing the wound to be inflicted upon us because of our sins, and it is going to get worse before people even realize that there is a problem. But then He will restore us if we call out to Him, if we trust Him, if we look to Him to heal us. Since He is the one who has allowed the wound to be inflicted, He is the only one who can cure it. There is no other cure; we have to be very clear about that. Only Jesus can cure what we have done. So we must call out to Him, we must reach out to Him; otherwise, we will sink. If we rely on ourselves or anything else, there is no hope. Our hope is in the Lord, and only in Him. We have to learn to trust Him. We have to have faith and confidence in Christ. That is our only hope of salvation in the midst of this mess. It is our only hope of healing, but the promise is His and He will fulfill it as long as we remain faithful.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.