Thursday September 2, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 3:18-23) Gospel (St. Luke 5:1-11)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul tells us something of critical importance for us to understand. He said, “ . . . for everything belongs to you, . . . and you to Christ, and Christ to God.” That means that because Jesus is God everything exists in Him, and if you are in Him and a member of Him everything that exists, then, belongs to you. Now the saints tell us that if we are going to be able to truly accept this, what we have to do is be detached from everything so that we can have it all. If we are attached to anything then that is all we have. But if we let go then we will have everything because then we have the Lord, and everything belongs to Him. Now when we think about what that means, practically, for us, that because God created everything for us, and that He created us for Himself, then all of the things that there are, are there for us. It is not just a matter that they are there just for us to look at, or to enjoy, but also to use. And so, what we need to be able to do then is to pray for detachment. [We need] to pray for detachment from everything that is not Christ because we are made for Him. Yet, what we do instead is put other things before Him even though we are made for Him. Therefore, we do not obtain the fullness of Christ because we have other things that are in the way. However, once we can let go of all of the other things then we can have Him in His fullness. If we have Him in His fullness then we have everything and we lack nothing.
In this society, we have, of course, the typical problem that we want more things. Well, if you want more things, get rid of it all and then you will have everything. I do not mean everything in the theoretical sense, but literally. You may not have a house that is filled with all kinds of things from floor to ceiling, but you will be the owner of everything, and every single thing that exists will be yours. If you are truly detached and you have the Lord you are not going to be worried about those things anymore. They will be there and you can use them without any fear of losing them because they all belong to you anyway [since] they all belong to Him.
We look at the various things that He [Our Lord] did. Just look at what He did as we hear in the gospel reading today. He tells Peter, Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch, even though they had been at it all night and had caught nothing. At the command of the Lord they caught so many fish that the two boats were ready to sink. Then He tells them, after such a thing, from now on you will be fishers of men, and they left everything and followed Him. Now, they had just made this huge catch of fish and they probably would have gotten all kinds of money for it. They had their boats and they had their nets. The value of those things, I am sure, was rather large, and they left it all because they found something that was far more important; and they finally figured out that if they wanted to have all of the fish in the lake they could, because they were all there for the Lord.
Therefore, [you may] think about the fact that everything is yours, but so what! What is more important than that is that you are Christ’s; that you belong to the Lord. You are a member of Christ and, therefore, everything that is in Him belongs to you. And, Christ is God’s, which means, therefore, that since you are a member of Christ you belong to God, and God is your inheritance. These things are what we really need to focus on. The other stuff is going to be left behind, but you belong to God and that is where we need to be looking.
Again, when we see what happened in the gospel reading today, the apostles ultimately had to be able to look at things and say, “What good is it? What is the value? What is more important?” and they left their nets immediately, we are told, and followed Him. They did not even have to think about it. They recognized what was most important and they embraced it. That is what we have to do, too. I am not saying go home today and tell your spouse that you have had enough and you are going on a mission trip and you are leaving it all behind. That is not it at all. It is to be detached from every thing so that you can attach yourself entirely to Christ. When you are attached entirely to Christ then everything else is yours. However, as long as you are attached to the things you think you have then you have nothing; because you do not have Christ in His fullness since you are trying to fill your heart with things that are not God, but are mere material possessions. That does not work. And so, just pray for detachment. Let the Lord show you what needs to go and what can stay, but be detached from it all and then you will have everything. More importantly, in that everything that exists in God, you will have God in His fullness.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.