Tuesday August 31, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 2:10b-16) Gospel (St. Luke 4:31-37)
In yesterday’s readings, we saw that it was not by any kind of human eloquence or fancy words that we are ever going to be able to bring anyone to conversion because that is something that is merely human. Whereas, what we are about is something that is truly divine. That is exactly what we hear in the readings today.
Saint Paul is telling us that it is the Spirit that speaks through him and that we have to learn to judge spiritual things in spiritual ways. But those who want to be worldly cannot understand them because they are not looking for spiritual things. Even if one speaks to them in spiritual ways, all that they can hear is what is natural because they do not want to hear what is spiritual. And so, we see Our Lord going in to Capernaum and He is speaking in spiritual ways. The people are astonished at His teaching because it is with authority. They are blown over because as He speaks the unclean spirits are obedient. Even still, we recall that Our Lord ultimately turns against Capernaum and says, For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. So, they saw His works, they heard His words, and still they did not believe, because they refused to look beyond what was natural. That is exactly the problem we have today when we have so many things pulling at us, and so many things pulling at those who do not know the Lord. All of the things of the media, all the materialism and money, and all of the things of society, are pulling us down to keep our focus on what is earthly, on what is natural, or even less.
We are called to focus on Christ. Saint Paul even goes so far as to say, “But we have the mind of Christ.” Now that is something you can ponder for the rest of eternity. You have the mind of Christ! When is the last time you used it? What goes through your mind? Does it seem to you that it [your mind] is the mind of Christ? Obviously, some of the unfortunate things that go through our minds are clearly not of Christ. Yet, if we are living according to the spirit of God we are going to have insight, we are going to have understanding, and our thoughts are not going to be about this world but about God. That is where we want to have our focus. That is what it is to be led by the spirit of God. But many of us do not want to be led by the spirit of God. We want to have God in our lives but we want to be led by the spirit of the world because we are afraid of what it is going to require if we are led by the spirit of God.
We have to make a choice, and we have to make a very radical choice. If all that we want is to have God in our lives, but we really do not want to be led by His spirit, we are going to be like the people in the gospel. They heard Our Lord’s words and they saw Our Lord’s works and it did not matter to them. They were astonished by it, and they liked what they saw and heard, but they did not change their lives. They even heard the demon crying out, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” and that did not even make any difference to them. If all we want are fireworks, the devil will provide many of them. Even if they are miracles from God, the result of them tends to be very short-lived because we have so many other things pulling at us. Until we actually change interiorly, [unless we] put on the mind of Christ, and live the life of Christ, there is not going to be any permanent change within us. That is what is going to be required. It is not enough just to listen to Him or to watch Him from an arm’s distance. We need to take Him into ourselves and, even more, we need to enter into Him. We need to take on His mind. We need to have His spirit. We need to live His life. That is the dignity that is ours. It is something that is mind-boggling to us. How can we have the mind of Christ? How can we have the spirit of Christ? It is because He gave it to us, and He invites us to it, but He will not force it upon us. The choice must be ours: To take on Jesus Christ and to live Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.