Thursday August 26, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 1:1-9) Gospel (St. Matthew 24:42-51)
St. Paul begins his letter to the Corinthians by reminding them of all of the gifts that God has given to them, how He has enriched them in every way and has given them all knowledge and discourse, and that there was nothing lacking in any spiritual gift, and so on. Then, as the letter goes on, he chastises them for their infidelity. He reminds them of the gospel that he preached, but now there are others who are coming and preaching a different gospel. They are all divided among themselves as to who has the truth and to whom one belongs, and so on. So, we see that the fact that we are incorporated into Christ and that we have been given all of these gifts is not a guarantee that we are going to remain faithful them.
St. Paul, however, reminds them, also, that God is faithful and that it is God, Himself, the faithful one, who has called us to fellowship with Jesus Christ. Now, given the situation in which we live we have to recognize that we also have been blessed with an abundance of God’s spiritual gifts. Everything necessary for us to be able to live our faith to its fullness is there. But, we live in a society in which all of these things are being tugged at. They are constantly being pulled away from us, if the devil would be able to do so. He lays his snares and his traps for us and we fall prey to it. Sometimes, we think it is easier to live according to the ways of the world. We think, “After all, as long as I can continue to go to Mass and continue to do some prayer I can live according to the ways of the world, too, and I can say that I am doing okay.” No, we cannot. We cannot fool ourselves and we certainly cannot fool God. The Lord tells us that if the master of the house knew when his house was going to be broken into, he would have stayed awake and he would not have allowed it to happen. Well, the same is true for us. Everything has been given and we need, now, to be vigilant, not merely to protect what has been given but to augment it, to use it, to put it into practice. But also, we must make sure that we are not trying to mix what God has given us with what Satan is giving us because that is going to be the trick of the devil. That is going to be the way he is going to try to ensnare us and to give us the fall.
As long as we can externally say that we continue to do what is right, internally we can be hanging on to things and giving ourselves over to things which not only have nothing to do with God but actually lead us away from Him. That is the part we have to be so careful of: to make sure that we are not just giving lip service to the faith; to make sure that we are not merely living it in an external way, but that internally we have allowed ourselves to be completely changed. We must embrace the faith internally and live it out, not just in an external manner but from the heart. It is in that way that the Master, on His arrival, will find us being vigilant and doing what we are supposed to be doing. All we have to do is look back, for instance, over the last day or the last week and we can ask ourselves, “If the Lord would have come back at any particular time during that day would I be able to say I was doing exactly what He would have wanted me to do?” Or, would we look back and say, “Boy, I am glad He did not come at this moment or at that moment because I would not have been in real good shape and I would have had a few things to answer to.” Would Our Lord have to ask why we were doing this or why we were doing that instead of doing what He expected us to do?
Blessed will that servant be whom his Master finds vigilant upon His arrival. That is what we have to be about. We have been given every spiritual gift. We have the fullness of the truth. There is nothing lacking to us except to fulfill it, except to live it in its fullness. That is what Our Lord is asking of each one of us. And so, God, who is faithful, has called us. He is faithful and He has not changed His call even if we have been unfaithful. Once we understand what God has called us to and understand His fidelity, then we, in turn, have to be faithful to Him. We have to give our hearts over to Him and we have to beg Him for the grace to be able to embrace His will and to live it out in our lives.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.