Tuesday† September 28, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23)†† Gospel (St. Luke 9:51-56)
At the same time, we see Our Lord in the Gospel reading. He turns His face toward Jerusalem, and we are told that this took place when it was time for His exodus, when it was time for His passing over, His being taken from this world. He came into this world for the very purpose of dying. He was a man of sorrows, but He did not curse His day; rather what He did was to rejoice when the time came Ė rejoice not simply because He was going to die and get away from the sorrows and the suffering, but rather to rejoice because Godís Will was being fulfilled in Him.
With Job (of course, they did not have Our Lord at that time), they did not understand the value of suffering so the only way that he would look at it was to escape, not unlike most of us when we are made to suffer. How many of us embrace it? How many of us are really willing to offer our suffering to the Lord, to unite our suffering with His? Most of us would much rather find a way of being able to escape. That is even the way people look at death. For some people, it is an escape from life; it is an escape from the suffering and the pain from which they are suffering so terribly. For some people, it is just an escape from anything; they run away from other things by running to death. But Our Lord shows us that it is just the opposite. It was something that He was running toward, not as an end in itself but as the means to true life, not as a matter of despair but as a matter of hope. That is the way we want to be able to adjust ourselves.
If we can see the value of the suffering that He endured, and therefore the value of the suffering that we can endure with Him, if we can see the way that He was looking at death as the means to life, as the exodus from this world to the Promised Land, that is the way we can look at it. It is not running away but it is running to. It is not trying to escape, but rather just the opposite. It is an entrance; it is the way to life. Now many of us, rather than running away from something to get to death, just plain run away from death. But that again is something in which Our Lord shows us just the opposite. When His time came, He turned His face toward Jerusalem knowing what was going to face Him there, and with great resolution He moved right into the place where He knew He was going to meet death. But in that He defeated death for all of us so that we no longer need be afraid. Rather, we need to learn from Our Lord the right attitude, to be able to embrace the suffering, to be able to face death with courage, with resolution, knowing that death is not the end but rather it is the means by which we can attain life.
That is the attitude we need Ė not to curse our day Ė because as miserable as things are out in the world right now it is the best time in the world to be a Catholic. As difficult as things may be in our individual lives, there is no better time in the world to become a saint. This is what God has given us the opportunity to do. It is to take up our cross; it is to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, to share in His passion, to share in His crucifixion in order to share in His death and resurrection. It is to see things in a very positive way, not to run away but to run toward, not to flee but to embrace, and to be able to see this as the entrance, the singular door that will lead us to the fullness of life. But most importantly, we need to see it only as Godís Will, not what we would personally prefer but rather to accept what God wants; and when the day comes and Godís Will is made clear, to rejoice in it, to embrace it, to enter into it, so we can have the fullness of life which follows from it.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.