Friday October 8, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Galatians 3:7-14) Gospel (St. Luke 11:15-26)
Our Lord in the Gospel reading today tells us the obvious and He says, Every house divided against itself will fall. He says this because the people were claiming that it was by the power of Beelzebul, who is the number two man in hell behind Satan himself, that Our Lord was casting out demons; and if this is the case, then the kingdom is divided against itself. Now the interesting thing is that when we look at the first reading one would almost be tempted to think this is the same point regarding the kingdom of God, because, as Saint Paul points out, Jesus became a curse for us. So here is the One who is the Redeemer, who is the Savior of the world, and He became a curse. It would almost appear as if the house is divided against itself. How can the One who came to save us Himself wind up being a curse? How can the One who came to give life enter into death? It seems a total contradiction, but in fact it is not because what He did was to take the curse on in order to take it away from us. The point we have to understand is that it is not a division within Christ.
However, it is a division within our own selves if after being reconciled with God and after being redeemed by Christ we choose the curse instead of the freedom. When we choose to sin, to open our hearts up to Satan when we have already given them over to Christ, then we are the divided house. If that is the case, the house is going to fall because we cannot continue to try to say that we are going to serve the living God and continue to give ourselves over to Satan at the same time. We have to choose whether we are going to be completely devoted to God or whether we are going to be completely devoted to the devil.
Now most of us, of course, would immediately want to say that we do not want to be completely devoted to Satan, but if we are not going to give ourselves to God there is only one other alternative. So we give ourselves "sort-of" to God, hedging our bets all the way along, and trying to make sure this is not going to require too much out of us, which tells us that we are only letting God in part-way. And if we are only letting God in part-way then we have to ask, "Well, for whom is the rest reserved?" Once again, there is only one alternative. If we are too afraid to be vulnerable, if we are too afraid to make the changes, if we are too afraid to let God in, it is because Satan is right there with all of his vile lies and he is telling us that we should not open up because we cannot trust God. Then we are a house divided because with our lips we are saying, "Of course, we trust God!" but in our actions we do not.
We have to look very, very seriously at this point. Jesus took everything on for us, so we do not have to fear Him. We do not have to worry that He is going to hurt us or abandon us or reject us or anything else – He never, ever will. He has taken on everything that Satan could throw at us and He nailed it to the Cross. He took it on Himself so that He could take it off of us. So what would seem in Christ to be a house divided is not, but if we choose within our own selves to continue to be a house divided then Satan has won. Jesus has done the work; all we have to do is unite ourselves to Him. All we have to do is let Him in and allow Him to take over. That is the choice we have to make. In this way, the stronghold that the devil has upon us will simply crumble as we let the Lord in, and he [the devil] will have no hold. That way, there is no way he will be able to break into our house because we have the Lord right within. But if we are letting the Lord only part-way in, it is only into the room that we have allowed Our Lord that the devil will not be able to enter.
So we want the Lord to be the master of the whole house, not just the master of the foyer or whatever little room we have given Him. We want Him to have the whole house. That means we have to trust Him, to open up, to allow Him to enter in to fulfill what it is that He has already done for us because He took our sins to the Cross, He took the curse that we are under and nailed it to the Cross. He took it all upon Himself so that we could have the freedom of the children of God. If we choose slavery to Satan over the freedom of the children of God, then we are a house divided. And a house divided against itself will fall.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.